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What Are Buzz Residents Reading?

Cindy Burnett
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The Social Graces

Buzz writer Andria Frankfort recommends a favorite recent read, The Social Graces by Renée Rosen.

I learn about some of my best reads from other people so I thought it would be fun to start a new monthly series where I interview Buzz residents about what they are reading and what they recommend. 

This week I chat with Buzz writer Andria Frankfort about her latest great read. She selected The Social Graces by Renée Rosen, a book about the rivalry between Caroline Astor and Alva Vanderbilt during the Gilded Age. Author Fiona Davis, bestselling author of GMA Book Club Pick The Lions of Fifth Avenue, states about the book: “Rosen’s novel opens with a sly wink to that grand dame of the Gilded Age, Edith Wharton, before she deftly spins a captivating tale of her own, based upon the legendary rivalry between Caroline Astor and Alva Vanderbilt. And what a rich story it is, full of opulent balls and monstrous mansions, yet firmly rooted in the parallel struggles of two very different heroines as they fight for their dignity and rights as wives, as mothers, and as women.” 

And Kristin Beck, author of Courage My Love, raves: “Renée Rosen’s The Social Graces is a fascinating look into the lives of women who created their own power in a world that granted them none. Rosen weaves a captivating story full of mounting rivalries, glittering balls, and social intrigue, but it's also a tale of women striving to manage their own lives and legacies. Enthralling, thought provoking, and memorable, this is a must read!”

I loved this book as well and selected it as one of my May Buzz Reads picks. Here is what Andria has to say about it:

What is the best book that you have read recently?

My favorite book of the past few months is The Social Graces by Renée Rosen.

What did you like about it? What made it stand out to you?

I love historical fiction, and I did not know much about the Gilded Age, nor about the feud between the Astors and Vanderbilts. It was fun to hear about the old guard-new guard clashes, but mostly I loved reading about what life was like for women in New York society in the late 1800s. I happened to be in New York while reading the book, and I think I wore my family out pointing out where the landmark homes from the book used to be - who knew that the office building at 52nd and 5th was originally a Vanderbilt mansion!

How did you learn about this book?

I learned about the book from your Thoughts from a Page podcast episode with Renée Rosen!

What are you reading now?

I loved The Social Graces so much that I just finished Rosen's Park Avenue Summer about a young girl working in New York in the '60s for Helen Gurley Brown. Rosen does a fantastic job building a page-turning fictional story around a real character, and we learn about the vulnerable side of the Cosmopolitan editor, and what she - and so many other women in that time - went up against in a world that mandated women marry, have children, and stay at home.

Andria’s book selection ties in well with the new limited series starting next week on HBO, “The Gilded Age.” If you like this era and want to find more books set during that time period, I recently wrote about books set during the Gilded Age

For more book recommendations and bookish thoughts, see Cindy’s monthly Buzz Reads column, her Thoughts from a Page Podcast or follow @ThoughtsFromaPage on Instagram. Find upcoming Conversations from a Page events here.

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