For fans of HBO’s The Gilded Age and readers of Marie Benedict, Karen Harper, and Ellen Marie Wiseman, this sweeping novel of historical fiction from New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Shana Abé is inspired by the true story of Arabella Huntington—a charismatic, complex woman born to poverty who became one of the most powerful and wealthy figures of her time.
1867, Richmond, Virginia: Though she wears the same low-cut purple gown that is the uniform of all the girls who work at Worsham’s gambling parlor, Arabella stands apart. It’s not merely her statuesque beauty and practiced charm. Even at seventeen, Arabella possesses an unyielding grit, and a resolve to escape her background of struggle and poverty.
Collis Huntington, railroad baron and self- made multimillionaire, is drawn to Arabella from their first meeting. Collis is married and thirty years her senior, yet they are well-matched in temperament, and flirtation rapidly escalates into an affair. With Collis’s help, Arabella eventually moves to New York, posing as a genteel, well-to- do Southern widow. Using Collis’s seed money and her own shrewd investing instincts, she begins to amass a fortune.
Their relationship is an open secret, and no one is surprised when Collis marries Arabella after his wife’s death. But “The Four Hundred”—the elite circle that includes the Astors and Vanderbilts—have their rules. Arabella must earn her place in Society—not just through her vast wealth, but with taste, style, and impeccable behavior. There are some who suspect the scandalous truth, and will blackmail her for it. And then there is another threat—an unexpected, impossible romance that will test her ambition, her loyalties, and her heart . . .
An American Beauty brings to vivid life the glitter and drama of a captivating chapter in history—and a remarkable woman who lived by her own rules.