Let me say from the start that stories set in the Gilded Age in New York have not been my favorites. The endless description of the opulence of that time makes me tired and seems to get in the way of the story.
This was not the case with Heiress. While there are many descriptions of parties and gowns and the like, the story is so captivating and interesting that the imagery didn't interfere with it. Also, there are no perfect characters here, but that is what makes the novel so appealing. It is not the outcome or ideal characters that make a story_it is the journey.
Apart from a few times when the dialogue was hard to follow (it was sometimes difficult to tell who was speaking), this novel was extremely well-written. I was immersed in the story, and the cliffhangers at the end of the sections made this novel very difficult to put down.
I will warn that this story involves some mature themes. Much of the story revolves around adultery, so this would not be a book for younger audiences.
It would also be good to note that this is the first book in a series, the "Daughters of Fortune." The two main characters' stories are completed in this book, but there is one plot line that is not.
Susan May Warren has written an intriguing novel that won me over to books about the Gilded Age.
I love reading stories set during the Gilded Age, and have read a good number of them to date. This novel tops them all as my absolute favorite. In fact, in my opinion this is Susan May Warren's best book ever! I've read ten of her books and have ten more (at least) that I own or have started. Her historical fiction is far superior in quality because it's full of deep, heart-felt insight on a level that her contemporary novels don't quite touch. I used to think Sons of Thunder was her best book because it was so intense and fabulous, but this novel even tops that one.
In my opinion, Susan is clearly gifted when it comes to writing historical romance. She does a great job with deep point of view and insight into human frailty and overwhelming regrets. At many different times while reading this novel I felt like I was living the life of each of the sisters. The author includes so much sensory detail with visceral emotion attached to it...like the scent of city life, the ink from the presses, stark terror from the absence of light deep in the mines, the pain from wearing the corsets, to constriction of society's expectations, the blood from...well I won't say.
Anyway, a few times I was agonizing over the story line. I felt like yelling into the book and saying nooooo! Talk about torturing your reader with the characters' conflicts! I was feeling their regrets and wishing they had made better choices too. My heart hurt for them. I was living this story! That's great writing.
Things I admired most about this novel was it was brave, honest, and well told. How many Christian authors have their characters actually admitting to themselves that something was very wrong that happened, but it led to something that was very right...like understanding true love for the first time in their lives? There were some tender scenes that included passionate gazes and kisses filled with so much longing. The intense emotion in this novel was palpable at times. And the heroes were so lovable.
Many contemporary topics were covered that were relevant back in the Gilded Age just like they are now. Infidelity, spousal abuse, the love of money and position, and pride over appearances to name a few. I loved how the author tied so many truths into each character's struggle with their desire to know true love and with learning to receive forgiveness. The heroes were each, in their own way, models of Christ. They were committed to the heiresses, patient and willing to forgive. But unlike Jesus, the heroes weren't perfect. I loved that too. I didn't find the spiritual thread heavy handed, but it was clearly present. I like how the author showed their spiritual journeys in a way that was culturally relevant to the times. I loved how she referred to D. L. Moody and some of his famous sermons as well.
This was a great book. But I have to warn you that it's addicting. I literally struggled with having to go to work when what I really wanted to do was stay home and read this novel. Excellent fiction. Compelling. Well-plotted. Intelligently written. I was thinking, "Man, I wish I could write like this." Truly superior and emotionally evocative writing. I highly recommend it.
I confess. I love book covers. This one is stunning!
I've read many of Susan's books but until I readÂ HeiressÂ I had no idea she could take me in two different directions so skillfully. Most times, when reading a book, you get one heroine in one locale, but inÂ HeiressÂ you get two heroines in two locales, and it is NEVER confusing!
Esme & Jinx are quite the sisters. Fiercely independent, Esme wishes to marry for love. Traditional to the core, Jinx wishes to marry for socially acceptable reasonsÂ thinkingÂ she will be loved. These poor girls. I felt so sorry for them. At times, the pressure to be the perfect daughter seemed so overwhelming, and it certainly shaped how they felt towards one another and others. Obviously, the times were different and daughters had tremendous obligations to their families to marry well, often times "saving" the family from ruin. But I must say, with as many books as I've read set from the Regency to Gilded Era, this one makes me glad I wasn't living in those times. Nope. No thank you.
Susan is a master at portraying the opulence and grandeur. I could see the gorgeous ball gowns, sparkling dog collars ( on women, not dogs ;)), and those handsome men in their fancy waistcoats. She's also a master at portraying the deceit, jealousy, and manipulation that took place behind closed doors. Whew!Â I'll stick to reading books.
Not a spoiler but if you're squeamish about infidelity and abuse, I wouldn't recommend this one. Â It's not graphic but the subjects are covered.
Thank you to the publisher and Litfuse for my review copy. This is my honest opinion.
I am not sure why Heiress is marketed as Christian fiction. Perhaps Heiress earned the label â€˜Christian,' because desperate prayers are whispered heavenward and church attendance is socially required.
But after reading only one-third of the book, I wondered why I continued turning the pages. The story is full of lust, lies, adultery, anger, disrespect, and abuse, and I was very disappointed - perhaps disgusted would be closer to the truth. I flipped nearer to the end of the book to see if things got any better. I am sad to say that the ungodly topics were still rampant.
If the story *does* conclude in a godly manner, I was not willing to wade through the filth to find out.
I know Susan May Warren has written many books (of which I have not read), but if Heiress is indicative of her style and subject matter, I do not want to pick up another. Unfortunately, The Heiress will not be remaining on my shelf, and I do not recommend it at all.
*I received a free review copy through Litfuse in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given, and all thoughts are 100% mine.*
I totally enjoyed this book and found it going in directions I had not expected. I know it was written of a specific era, but I feel it applies today. It shows what a total mess we can make of things when we try to solve problems our own way. We cannot worry about what the world thinks of us, and how they judge us.....we have to be true to our faith and belief in our Heavenly Father and let Him guide us in all things.