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Book Review: A Well Behaved Woman

Week 22 done! It's crazy to think I have read 22 books already this year! Look at me go! It's also crazy to think I am almost halfway done with my reading challenge! This year is flying by!

So, this week's book I picked up because I had read another book by this author, and knew I was gonna love this new one of hers (Spoiler: I did!)!

If you need a refresher to why I'm doing a weekly book review, check it out here!

So, now, here is my review of A Well Behaved Woman by Therese Anna Fowler!

A Well Behaved Woman begins with Alva Smith contemplating her future. With her father ill, and destitute, her and her sisters are running out of money. It is up to Alva to marry well to save her family. Alva soon catches the eye of William Vanderbilt, the second son of the railway mogul.

The pair soon marry, saving Alva's sisters, but the Vanderbilt family is still rejected by high society. With Alva's help, the family begins to make strides into society.

Alva soon welcomes a daughter, followed by a son, yet her and William are still not in love.

When Alva decides that all the Vanderbilt's should build mansions in New York's up and coming neighborhood.

After hosting a legendary ball, Alva and her husband are finally accepted by the elite.

But, Alva still isn't happy. And begins to have feelings for Oliver Belmont, a friend of her husband.

After Alva welcomes another son, and builds a gorgeous summer home for the family, she begins to turn her mind to more humanitarian pursuits. She begins working to make the poor and working classes have better lives. But, when William's father dies, and he inherits millions, things between Alva and William change once again.

He leaves their family for months at a time, and begins squandering the family money on elaborate things, like a yacht and another house.

As the family takes a trip around the world, a letter arrives for Alva from her best friend, stating that her and William had been carrying on an affair for years.

Alva seeks a divorce, on the grounds of adultery, something unheard of in her time. She is able to win custody of her children, one of the Vanderbilt homes, and millions of dollars. This makes her a pariah, once again, in New York society.

When she finally declares her love for Oliver, and him for her, the pair are married, and Alva once again accepted by society. She soon makes it her new endeavor to marry her daughter to a well-to-do man, and soon finds her an English lord.

However, Oliver soon dies of appendicitis, and Alva's daughter divorces her lord. The pair begin working to further woman's Suffrage until Alva passes in her 80's.

I found this book delightful! I loved Fowler's other novel about Zelda Fitzgerald (She purposely chooses strong woman to write about), and am thrilled to report, I loved this one just as much. I knew nothing about Alva Vanderbilt Belmont going into this book, and found her to be fascinating. She was very ahead of her time, and made huge strides in empowering woman during her life.

I love Fowler's style. She is able to perfectly capture the feel of 1800's New York City, and breaths new life into a rather marginalized woman. She is able to keep the reader involved in the book without making the writing too complex.

There were some parts of the novel that were a little slow, and some jumps in time. I would have loved for Fowler to have provided years so I could know just how far ahead we had jumped in Alva's life. But those are my only two complaints.

I would give A Well Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler a solid 4 out of 5!

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