Wednesday, April 21, 2021

"The Social Graces"

Renée Rosen is the bestselling author of historical fiction. Her novels include Park Avenue Summer, Windy City Blues, White Collar Girl, What the Lady Wants and Dollface as well as the young adult novel, Every Crooked Pot. Her new novel, The Social Graces, is a story about Mrs. Astor and Mrs. Vanderbilt vying for control of New York society during the Gilded Age.

Rosen applied the Page 69 Test to The Social Graces and reported the following:
From page 69:
If William looked at his timepiece once more, if he clacked it open and snapped it shut again, Caroline was going to scream. And she never screamed. Instead, she waited, counted to ten. In less than twenty-four hours, their daughter was getting married, and William had just announced that he was not going to walk Emily down the aisle. Caroline knew he didn’t mean it, that he simply like the sound of it, that it gave him some false sense of control over the situation.

“Why not just have Waldorf give her away?” he said. Clack. Snap. “He’s running for the state senate. Surely that should impress everyone.”

“Waldorf is not her father.”

“Oh, come now, Lina. You’re not fooling anyone.” He set the timepiece down. “You can invite as many presidents, as many dukes and duchesses—invite the goddamn queen of England—it won’t change a thing.”

Maybe it wouldn’t change the situation, but it was certainly providing enough dazzling distractions to give the gossips something else to focus on. She had painstakingly curated the guest list, one that was so ultra-exclusive she’d even crossed off several of the bride and groom’s requests. As she explained to Emily, there simply wouldn’t be room for several of James’s friends such as that young Vanderbilt and his brash wife.

“I tell you, Lina,” William said, reaching for his timepiece again, “everyone knows this wedding is a farce.”

“This marriage may be a farce, but it saved your life, and now I’m going to save Emily’s reputation. And I don’t care how many dignitaries it takes to do it.”
You can’t judge a book by its cover and I don’t think you can judge The Social Graces by the page 69 test. While it does capture one aspect of Mrs. Astor’s personality, it doesn’t address the fact that Alva Vanderbilt shares equal real estate in the story, or even hint that there’s a fun society chorus throughout—which is a big part of the book’s theme. This novel spans three decades, so while grabbing a quick snapshot like this might give readers a taste of the story, it’s also misleading.

I think and hope that The Social Graces will provide readers with a fun escape into the Gilded Age. A bookseller friend put it best when he said, “It’s like the original Real Housewives of New York City but in ball gowns.”
Visit Renée Rosen's website, blog, and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Dollface.

The Page 69 Test: What the Lady Wants.

The Page 69 Test: Windy City Blues.

--Marshal Zeringue