In 1920s New York, the price of a woman’s independence can be exorbitant—even fatal.
In 1924 Manhattan, women’s suffrage is old news. For sophisticated booklover Julia Kydd, life’s too short for politics. With her cropped hair and penchant for independent living, Julia wants only to launch her own new private press. But as a woman, Julia must fight for what’s hers—including the inheritance her estranged half brother, Philip, has challenged, putting her aspirations in jeopardy.
When her friend’s sister, Naomi Rankin, dies suddenly of an apparent suicide, Julia is shocked at the wealthy family’s indifference toward the ardent suffragist’s death. Naomi chose poverty and hardship over a submissive marriage and a husband’s control of her money. Now, her death suggests the struggle was more than she could bear.
Julia, however, is skeptical. Doubtful of her suspicions, Philip proposes a glib wager: if Julia can prove Naomi was in fact murdered, he’ll drop his claims to her wealth. Julia soon discovers Naomi’s life was as turbulent and enigmatic as her death. And as she gets closer to the truth, Julia sees there’s much more at stake than her inheritance…
About the Author
Born near Boston, Marlowe Benn grew up in an Illinois college town along the Mississippi River. She holds a master’s degree in the book arts from the University of Alabama and a doctorate in the history of books from the University of California, Berkeley. A former editor, college teacher, and letterpress printer, Benn now lives with her husband on an island near Seattle. Relative Fortunes is her first novel.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Thank you to NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing and the author Ms. Marlowe Benn for the opportunity to read this Advanced Readers Copy of "Relative Fortunes" The first book in a new series, "Julia Kidd Novels", Ms. Benn plans to bring to life a crime solving twenty something "suffragette" living in New York and across the pond. This is the story of "Julia Kidd", freshly arrived in New York and ready to conquer the world. She's single, an early feminist, and has come to claim her inheritance. She struggles to find her female voice as she navigates the Male dominated Victorian Society. Except this is Victorian times, and women can't have access to their money, even when its legally theirs, without a male relative to allow it. Julia's half brother, "Philip" has come to dispute the legitimacy of Julia's inheritance. He contends she is not entitled. Tragedy strikes Julia's good friend. When Julia recounts the story to Philip, he makes her an offer she can't refuse. And so begins the "sleuthing career" of Miss Julia Kidd amidst the 1920's enchanting age of jazzy New York, and fight for women's rights. 3.5 stars
Was drawn into this novel from the first chapter! It's the 1920's, and Julia Kydd is about to turn 25 years of age, the date she can inherit her share of her father's inheritance. Or so she thought. But her half-brother Philip has the trust frozen pending research on implications of their father's original will. And this is only the first of many issues Julia faces when she comes to New York in this historical mystery. This novel is a great read and filled with information on society and behavior during this period in time. Benn writes about the suffragettes, working class women, how men ruled the businesses and their homes, and upper class women's place in the home, as well as abortion during this early time. The main mystery of Naomi Rankin's death is an ending you won't see coming, and there are also several other "threads" that will be tied up in the most unexpected ways. The entire family is somewhat bonkers! All that "old money and old power." Kudos to the author! The secondary resolution of Julia's father's will and her relationship with her half-brother is also another portion of this novel that was very well written and great to follow in the story. Loved the portion with Philip's Aunt Lillian! Would definitely highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for a good, clean mystery with several laughs and more than enough surprises throughout to keep the reading interesting!
This is the best book I've read this year! It's almost hard to believe that this is the debut novel for this author. The story takes you on twists and turns that have you captivated from the very first page. Set in the 1920's in New York, the story takes us through what it's like to be living during this time. The story focuses on Julia, who is in Manhattan to meet with her brother and finalize her inheritance as she will soon be turning 25. She barely knows her half-brother who is older than her and has been writing the checks that kept her in school and on a living allowance after both her parents died. She has been living in London and, during her travels aboard ship, she meets up with an old school acquaintance. This chance meeting sets up a huge mystery that Julia is determined to solve as it becomes important to her personally to do so. The author shows us what it's like to be a woman living during this time. Women do not have a lot of options as far as money or status goes. Or even legal rights, which we can't even imagine today. They are expected to act and live a certain way, and when they don't, they are shunned by both family and friends. As the book progressed, I truly thought I knew who the culprit was in the story, however, over and over I was wrong and the ending was a huge surprise that delighted me! In fact, this whole book was a delight to read and I can't wait to read her next novel. If you read nothing else this year, get this book and read it! It was such a good story with characters you truly learn to care about (or loathe, depending on who they are) and a book you won't soon forget. I'm giving it 5 stars, although, it truly deserves 10! *This book was provided to me for my honest review by Little Bird Publicity. I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.