A WELL-BEHAVED WOMAN is a
story about the notorious Alva Vanderbilt who married a rich man to
save herself and her sisters from destitution. Once Alva Smith lived a
prosperous life, but that was until their fortune was lost. She has to
wed really well and she catches the eye of William Vanderbilt from the
very rich, but socially outcast Vanderbilts. Alva is hell-bent on getting
herself and the Vanderbilts everything they want, no matter the cost.
But, can all the money in the world buy her the happiness she wants?
A WELL-BEHAVED WOMAN is a
book about a woman's struggle to save her family by sacrificing her
own happiness by marrying a man she doesn't love. She strives to build
a reputation for the Vanderbilts, a family who has always been looked
down upon, despite their wealth. And, she even sacrifices her own
daughter by marrying her off to a duke.
The book started off really well, but unfortunately, in the end, it failed
to truly captivate me. Alva Vanderbilt is such a fascinating woman.
However, I felt that the most interesting aspects of her life, like her
interest in equality for women, for instance, were overshadowed by her
loveless marriage and her constant yearning for love. It just went on
and on. I wanted a strong woman who knew what she wanted and who
didn't give a damn about the consequences. I never felt that she was
especially strong. While reading this book, I felt like if she wasn't
friends with Consuelo Yznaga, her best friend and later on Duchess of
Manchester, she never would have gotten especially far in life.
A WELL-BEHAVED WOMAN did
have its moments. Towards the end of the book, you really got a feeling
that Alva is starting to get interesting because she is discovering the
injustices in the world and tries to do something about it. And that's
when the book ends. So, alas, this could have been a great book, but I
found the story not especially memorable.
The riveting novel of iron-willed Alva Vanderbilt and her
illustrious family in as they rule Gilded-Age New York, from
the New York Times bestselling author of Z: A
Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.
In 1883, the New
York Times prints a lengthy rave of Alva Vanderbilt's
Fifth Ave. costume ball—a coup for the former Alva Smith,
who not long before was destitute, her family's good name
useless on its own. Marrying into the newly rich but
socially scorned Vanderbilt clan, a union contrived by
Alva's best friend and now-Duchess of Manchester, saved the
Smiths—and elevated the Vanderbilts.
Alva seems to have it all and want more. She does have a
knack for getting all she tries for: the costume ball—no
mere amusement—wrests acceptance from doyenne Caroline
Astor. Denied a box at the Academy of Music, Alva founds The
Met. No obstacle puts her off for long.
But how much
of ambition arises from insecurity? From despair? From
refusal to play insipid games by absurd rules? —There are,
however, consequences to breaking those rules. One must
And what of her maddening
sister-in-law Alice? Her husband William, who's hiding a
terrible betrayal? The not-entirely-unwelcome attentions of
his friend Oliver Belmont, who is everything William is not?
Her own best friend, whose troubles cast a wide
Alva will build mansions, push boundaries, test
friendships, and marry her daughter to England's most
eligible duke or die trying. She means to do right by all,
but good behavior will only get a woman so far. What is the
price of going further? What might be the rewards? There's
only one way to know for certain…