THE SOCIAL GRACES
*This post contains affiliate links. We earn a small commission if you purchase the book through this link.
April 20, 2021
One of my favourite types of books is the historical novel based on real people and actual incidents. I do realize that there can be a fine line between fact and fiction and that authors take liberties for the sake of the storyline. But often it is hard to tell when the fiction is blurring into fact. This type of book takes me longer to read than usual because I keep Googling “facts” to see how close they are to reality.
The Social Graces falls into this category. It is the story of New York society and the Gilded Age of the late 19th century. The two main protagonists are Caroline Astor and Alva Vanderbilt. They are rivals… ”old” money and “new” money do not mix. Mrs. Astor is the Queen of New York society. Mrs. Vanderbilt wishes she could be the Queen.
There is so much revealed in this book that it still continues to amaze me. The richness and opulence are beyond belief. The unwritten rules of society are strict and bizarre. Everything is far out of the scope of our lives all these years and generations later. It reminded me of the show Lifetimes of the Rich and Famous.
Ms. Rosen must have immersed herself in research for months and months! Any fact that I searched while reading was easy to find. Kudos to Ms. Rosen! In fact, the Author’s Notes at the end of the book explained what fictional facts came into play.
While all the characters are not likeable, they are fun and entertaining to read and about. I liked the alternating narratives by Alva and Caroline.
Probably, the only thing I did not like about the book was that all of a sudden the timeline had jumped ahead by a few years. But, in order to tell the story that covered that many years I guess that was the only way to do it.
The book reaffirmed the fact that money does not solve life’s problems. If anything, it creates more.
And, sadly the future generations of these families continued to have their problems. That was the result of my own research.
In conclusion, this book was a guilty pleasure. It was fun to read and revealing. It allowed me to become a fly on the wall listening to and watching how the affluent society carried on in years gone by.