A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler

A Well-Behaved Woman

The riveting novel of iron-willed Alva Vanderbilt and her illustrious family in as they rule Gilded-Age New York, from the New York Times bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.In 1883, the New York Times prints a lengthy rave of Alva Vanderbilt's Fifth Ave. costume ball--a coup for the former Alva Smith, who not long before was destitute, her family's good name useless on its own. Marrying into the newly rich but socially scorned V...

Details A Well-Behaved Woman

TitleA Well-Behaved Woman
Release DateOct 16th, 2018
PublisherSt. Martin's Press
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction

Reviews A Well-Behaved Woman

  • Diane S ☔
    THE GILDED AGE, a time of unprecented economic growth, the robber barons and their new money. Huge mansions, larger than life balls, and over the top furnishings. I have read biographies of Rockefeller, The Vsnderbilts, watched documentaries, where their wives were often side notes. If I thought about them at all, I dismissed them as priviledged, money grubbers and ornemental. Now, after reading this book, which tells Alva's story, I admit to tha...
  • Therese Fowler
    Yes, I'm rating my own novel five stars. Would anyone expect an author to do otherwise? If you enjoy Jane Austen or Edith Wharton novels, if reading fiction about real figures from history interests you, or if you share a fascination with the Gilded Age and/or the Vanderbilt family, this book is for you.
  • Cindy Burnett
    4.5 starsA Well-Behaved Woman is a fabulous story about Alva Vanderbilt and her determination to succeed in cut-throat, Gilded-Age New York. Fowler humanizes Alva and presents her in a way that will have the reader viewing Alva through a more sympathetic lens. The Gilded Age is a fascinating time period to me, and I loved viewing the era through Alva Vanderbilt’s eyes. I very much enjoyed this book and highly recommend it for anyone who loves t...
  • Roman Clodia
    The blurb describes Alva Vanderbilt as 'outspoken, brave, brilliant, fierce': what a shame, then, that the book portrays her as conventional, proper, limited by her attention to social mores and desperate to fit in - in fact, she's written as a generic rich woman who just wants to be queen bee of Gilded Age Manhattan. After her family lose their Southern cotton plantation wealth (er, money made on the back of slavery - though Fowler is at some pa...
  • Chris
    “A Well-Behaved Woman is a gem: a fascinating tale of Gilded Age manners and mores, and one remarkable woman’s attempts to transcend them. Therese Anne Fowler, the immensely gifted writer who gave us all new insights into Zelda Fitzgerald in her novel, Z, has done it again for Alva Vanderbilt Belmont.”-- Chris Bohjalian, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of The Flight Attendant
  • Liz
    3.5 stars, rounded upI’ve often thanked my lucky stars I was born when I was. The idea of one’s sole goal in life being to manage a “good” marriage is soul deadening. And when that prospect is hampered by a loss of fortune by one’s father… Alva Smith is looking for a husband in the years after the Civil War. “The young men, who were outnumbered three to one...watched and smiled and nodded like eager buyers at a thoroughbred market....
  • Rae
    A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler centers around the life story of Alva Smith, a well-connected woman who married (and later divorced) William Vanderbilt.I really enjoyed this book! It's technically a biographical historical fiction novel, so while the the conversations and meetings are mostly works of fiction, the events and timeline are all biographical. I don't consider myself a history buff, but I do en...
  • Ashley
    This was okay. I mean really, just okay. I think I skipped around a lot. BUT. I now know everything about the Vanderbilt family and other swanky 19th century families in NYC. So, I wasn’t a huge fan, but it did instigate further research.* Whatever. I love research. This book was kind of a win on that front. *starts planning summer trip to Newport so I can pretend to be a distant relation.
  • Janet
    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher --- The riveting novel of iron-willed Alva Vanderbilt and her illustrious family as they rule Gilded-Age New York, from the New York Times bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.Alva Smith, her southern family destitute after the Civil War, married into one of America’s great Gilded Age dynasties: the newly we...
  • Annette
    Alva Smith’s family could trace their bloodline to royalty of France and Scotland, but their fortune was gone.William K. Vanderbilt is the third Manhattan generation of a wealthy family, but their bloodline has no connection to any royalty, no title or lands, nothing in history to claim glory, not even by extension.The Knickerbockers of Manhattan closely guard their tight high society and will not let the Vanderbilts in.Alva is so poor that she...
  • Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition
    An interesting and beautifully written historic novel with just enough romance for emotional impact.Therese Anna Fowler has a magical way of weaving famous people and historical facts together to make all her characters come to life in a timeless and engrossing story of the life and times of socialite and social activist, Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont.As with "Z", her novel about the life of Zelda Fitzgerald, this book is meticulously researched ...
  • Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
    To be reviewed over at Fresh Fiction!
  • Ampersand Inc.
    From the author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald; I was super excited to read this when I heard about it…and it did not disappoint.This is the story of Alva Vanderbilt who went on to become an important person in the suffragette movement. For those are fans of Downtown Abby; this one’s for you.I love literary and historical fiction and this novel is both and does not disappoint. Based on true events and set in the Gilded-Age of New York City...
  • Laurel
    For years, I thought Gilded Age New York socialite Alva Vanderbilt's ferocious ambition was only rivaled by Jane Austen's Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice as the most grasping, husband hunting mother imaginable, however author Therese Anne Fowler has proved my assumptions totally unfounded. Through in-depth historical research and a thought provoking fictional characterization, we discover the back story of Alva's privileged but impoverished ch...
  • fortuna.spinning
    During the late nineteenth century, the Vanderbilts were like royalty in the northeast United States. This is the story of Alva Vanderbilt, her accomplishments in high society, architecture, and women’s suffrage. It’s about her family and heartache. While I learned a few things of historical significance, it’s very slow-moving and, at times, tedious. In the Author’s Note, Fowler mentions that she wrote this in the form of a nineteenth-cen...
  • Heather Fineisen
    A strong entry of historical fiction about a strong young woman who had to marry to care for her family. Alva married a Vanderbilt and progressed through the nuances of society. Raising her children and taking on various causes including suffrage were her interests. This was an interesting and well researched story at a life I knew little about. Now I want to read Z about Zelda Fitzgerald.Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley
  • Deirdre Metcalf
    This was a fantastic historical fiction based on real people and real events. There is a lot of fact in this fiction. The book follows the Vanderbilt family in the late 19th Century. We get to follow Ava from a young girl when she meets William K. Vanderbilt, marries him, and is thrown into the fierce and competitive upper crust society of New York City. We view things through Ava’s perspective and the author presents her with a soft sympatheti...
  • Kelli
    This book was a beast of a thing to get through. At about 400 pages, it seemed daunting to focus that many pages on one central character but boy did it work!This book tells the life of Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont - a prominent woman in New York society as well as the women's suffrage movement. All I can reasonably say about her after finishing this book is that she was one of the most interesting and complex characters that I have ever had the...
  • Carin
    I grew up surrounded by Vanderbilt, as my father is now a retired professor at the University. While no actual Vanderbilt family member ever visited the school (at least during its founding era, I'm not saying ever), I still have always had a great affinity towards the Robber Barons in general and the Vanderbilts in particular (although a while ago I did realize that people who works with Robber Barons blanch at that term and prefer to refer to t...
  • Tami
    The name Vanderbilt is so well-known that I am almost ashamed to say I knew next to nothing about Alva Vanderbilt. Therese Ann Fowler writes of Alva’s life just prior to her marriage to William Vanderbilt, up until her death.Alva’s family had a respectable name in society, but had lost their wealth during the Civil War, so it was with some desperation that Alva entered into the marriage with William. Combining his wealth and her family name w...
  • Lissa
    Alva Smith's family was on the brink of poverty when she realized she had to marry money. William Vanderbilt was from a very rich, but not yet socially prominent family who needed Alva's reputation in order to find respectability. Their marriage was no love match and never would be, but Alva used her circumstances to raise the Vanderbilt name in society as well as advance her interest in innovative architecture and the women's suffrage movement. ...
  • Karli
    A Well Behaved Woman explores the life of Alva Vanderbilt, giving the reader a slice of life and society from the late 1800's to early 1900's. It is easy to fall into the pages and read about the excess, the politics of "good" marriages and how the relationships progress and/or dissolve. The high society that is examined is the same as that written about by Edith Wharton. The amount of money that is thrown about is astounding, but Fowler is able ...
  • Mainlinebooker
    What a luscious guilty pleasure to voyeuristically peer into the world of Alva Smith Vanderbilt and the world of mansions, yachts, and balls. If one is a fan of the Gilded Age, this novel was created just for you. But this was not just a simplistic look at the wealth by the elite few. Cunning created by the necessity of the age, Alva marries for money, but is forever troubled by women's inability to have an independent voice within affairs of the...
  • Elspeth G. Perkin
    Fiction in all forms can provide the ultimate possible escape (that is why many of us deliberately seek them out) but unfortunately, I just can't seem to find that merciful departure from reality this year with any new historical novel release. I opened A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts desiring all the gilded trappings and recognized personalities that make the Gilded Age such a fascinating and riveting time period to lose yoursel...
  • Deb
    I am more conflicted writing this review than any review in recent memory. I enjoy historical fiction. I enjoy strong women. I love listening to a story sometimes as opposed to reading. It can add a whole extra layer of pleasure. I found the book to be well paced and the prose to be good. A Well Behaved Woman has all of those qualities but where Ms. Fowler has imagined conversations and details the book becomes flawed and at times outright offens...
  • Krista
    4 starsReview for NetGalley to follow
  • Chris Markley
    A story of a strong woman that marries into the Vanderbilt family. Alva doesn’t fit the mold of society women and makes unconventional choices to survive and live the life she wants. A definite must read for fans of historical fiction.Thanks to St Martin’s Press for providing an arc for my honest review.
  • Mercedes
    This book started out really strong for me. I've read a bit about the Vanderbuilts in the past, so I kind of knew the story going into it, but I thought the author did a great job of giving voice to Alva, a woman of superior morals who lead Guilded Age Society with her extreme wealth and opulence.Unfortunately, around the half-way point, I started to rapidly lose interest. Around 60% I skimmed the remainder of the book.I can't exactly put my fine...
  • Jenni Walsh
    When I saw this book was about the Vanderbilt family I immediately responded with an "ooooh" and then immediately realized I didn't know anything about their history. I couldn't even name any of their first names. That was remedied when I met Alva. I found her to be sassy, stubborn, and unconventional, in all the best ways. I enjoyed how the novel seemingly grew and expanded along with Alva's story, the gray seeping into her original black-and-wh...