What the Lady Wants: A Novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age

What the Lady Wants: A Novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age

by Renée Rosen
4.2 13

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What the Lady Wants: A Novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
cgreen37 More than 1 year ago
I'm not positive out-of-towners would be as interested in this book as native Chicagoans who will revel in the historical references and anything having to do with our wonderful Marshall Field's store, gone but never forgotten. Don't expect strict historical accuracy or era-appropriate dialogue, do expect love scenes that verge on bodice-ripping type language. If those aren't off-putting and you're looking for a quick, enjoyable read, go for it. Our book club is reading this, I'm not sure it will lead to substantive discussion, it's a bit lighter fare than our group usually goes for but if you're looking for a break long deep reads this might fit the bill.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
As Delia hurries home from having witnessed the ravages of the Great Chicago Fire, she has no idea how her life will change. It Chicago in the late 1880's. She marries Arthur Caton, a lawyer, and at first they are happy. But as the wheels of time turn, the marriage begins to reveal its problems and secrets. Despite their troubles, they befriend Marshall Field and his wife who live around the corner. And before long, neither Delia nor Marshall can deny the powerful attraction they feel for each other. Soon, they are embroiled in a passionate affair, even though Delia remains loyal to her husband. Arthur is aware of his wife's affair, and their marriage soon becomes an open one as it frees him to pursue his own unusual interests. Despite all the gossip and scandal, and being ostracized from society, Delia holds her head high and offers no compromise to her life, finally overcoming all to ultimately marry Marshall in widowhood.  It is evident the author has done her research for this story truly came alive. Never boring, the novel tantalized me to keep reading with each turn of the page. I was engrossed in the two marriages, the love that existed between Delia and the two men, and of course, the brilliant mind and honorable intentions of tycoon Marhsall Field. I could not help but be tottally enthralled with the characters. The setting, Chicago during the gilded age added much to enrichen the story line. I love works of fiction that are based on fact, and the novel did not disappoint. This is an exceptional story, which exceeded my expectations. Very highly recommended.
camilledimaio More than 1 year ago
While the cover art was enough to invite me to take a second look, what persuaded me to buy it was the subtitle: “A novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age”. I love reading historical fiction, and learning about a period of history while enjoying a good story. Renee Rosen scores on both points. Entrepreneur Marshall Field carried on thirty-year affair with socialite Delia Spencer Caton, both married. While not much is known about the details, it is documented that Field’s wife, Nannie, suffered from various illness, Marshall, Delia, and Delia’s husband, Arthur, frequently traveled and socialized together. Rosen did meticulous research with what was available, and filled in the holes with educated speculation about what might have gone on. The book focuses on the romance between Marshall and Delia, and, in fact, the entire story revolves around Delia’s point of view. Major historical events, such as the Haymarket Affair and the building and rebuilding of Marshall Field’s store are painted with very light brushstrokes. This is a light work, with much “telling” versus “showing”, and I would have enjoyed a more meaty look at the intricacies of who he was as a businessman. The popular Masterpiece Theater show, “Mr. Selfridge” demonstrates that both can be done. (And, I did appreciate the cameos of Harry Selfridge, as he did work for Marshall Field for twenty-give years before opening his own grand emporium in London.) Still, I was entertained, and walked away knowing more about the subject and time period than I knew before. I will definitely look forward to reading the author’s other works.
VirtuousWomanKF More than 1 year ago
This is a great story of Marshall Fields and his second wife.  Their love story is so passionate although very controversial.  This novel is a long the same strain as "The Aviator's Wife" and "The Paris Wife", I love the stories of successful men and the women they loved.  It is so wonderful to learn about those from the past, the lives they lead, and the history that they encompassed.  Would highly recommend.
anovelreview_blogspot_com More than 1 year ago
an absolutely fascinating novel! The novel is a mix or real and imagined details and characters. The novel follows the adult life of Delia Spencer.  I found Delia to be a compelling protagonist. Her life, though very cushioned, faced a number of difficulties. She was graceful when so many others were cruel. She was very much a lady. Rosen cleverly weaved a story which allowed the reader to understand why Delia strayed from her husband, Author. The numerous characters throughout the novel were just as compelling as Delia. Each character added depth and interest to the story. I was just as interested in the outcome of their stories, as I was in Delia's story. Rosen's writing is absorbing. I was able to feel the heat of the Great Fire and to see the changing landscape of Chicago. The story was solid, well written and compelling. Though the novel spans thirty-five years of Delia's life, it never drags on. I felt completely carried away by the story. One of my favorite novels this year. I am highly recommending you cuddle up this November with a copy of WHAT THE LADY WANTS by Renee Rosen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This had a few slow spots but was an excellent book about both Field and Chicago with a beautiful storyline. I highly recommend this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful book, I laugh, cried and couldn't wait to turn the page.
Heidi_Timmons More than 1 year ago
For Downton Abbey lovers, this is the equivalent in America. Historical fiction with romance that teaches and entertains.   I learned so much about Chicago at the late 1800s. The Great Fire, the Gilded Age, a famous love affair - this book has it all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
1871 Chicago – Delia Spencer is attending a ball and is fascinated by the men she sees examining the ladies, that is until she meets Marshall Field.  He’s an older man who exhibits all the graceful, polite but kind traits that attract an impressionable young lady just stepping out into the finest of society.  Delia is a very intelligent lady when it comes to appreciating the finest of fashions in clothes, interior decoration in any home, architecture, art, and more.  But all of that comes to a screeching halt when the same night as the ball the Great Fire of Chicago breaks out.  Delia, her family, and all of the City of Chicago are doing the best they can to stay ahead of the fire until they manage to get far from the City. It’s not just a fire – it’s a disaster that destroys all the major businesses of Delia’s family’s friends and acquaintances. It will be rebuilt.  The process symbolizes the upcoming life Delia and Marshall will share until 1906. No, they will not marry yet for Marshall is married to Nannie, a hypochondriac woman whose only consolation is her laudanum that makes her even sicker and furiously jealous as well.  For it’s clear that Marshall and Delia share a spark that will grow into a friendship and later passionate love, a relationship few spouses ever achieve.  Marshall is just as married to his work and the reader will be fascinated as he rebuilds his lost business, beginning on the day after the fire.  He will argue with his partner for many years until Delia encourages him to strike out on his own.  She becomes pivotal in helping him to choose styles and designs for everything in his store, from clothing to jewelry to home products and more.  Later she will help him create a home away from home for all the ladies who live in and visit Chicago.  These pages are absolutely riveting and delightful, sure to be loved by anyone with a flair for beauty in one’s personal appearance or home.  Nothing, I repeat, nothing is left out or repeated; utterly spectacular! Delia marries a man who has inherited money but has little else that he loves, other than his horses that he raises.  Arthur has a penchant that is totally unacceptable in the late 1800s; he and Delia will come to an agreement but one that is never wholly acceptable to either of them, one that will bring as much tragedy as it does satisfaction. Marshall is there for her through many shocking scenes that the reader will never forget.  His debacle with workers demonstrating and fighting for better pay, rights and other benefits is depicted with all of its passionate conflict and tension that is most likely precisely as it was in the famous Haymarket riots. What the Lady Wants… is superb historical fiction that this reviewer loved and was so disappointed when it ended.  It has everything within it, fashion, mystery, crime, labor disputes, social refinement and snobbery, family support and opposition, tragedy and stunning success.  A MUST read and guaranteed to be a best seller!  A KEEPER!!! Exquisitely written, Renee Rosen!
Feathered_Quill1 More than 1 year ago
Nineteenth century Chicago is well underway in its transformation of becoming the proving grounds of some of the most notable success stories in America's 'Gateway to Empire.' It is 1871 and the night before the infamous Chicago fires--an inferno that would level the world of society's famous and certainly most fortunate. Delia Spencer's and Marshall Field's worlds are about to collide. Something as simple as her search for silver hair combs to complete her languish outfit for a party the following evening would be the beginning of their lives together in a truly unconventional way for decades to come. Chicago's elite are enjoying the finer things in life. In the distance, the land is ablaze with the approaching fires. Earlier in the evening the Spencer sisters had nothing more to worry about than preening and primping for the event of the season. Palmer house was hosting a party. Abby Spencer was all but betrothed to Augustus which left Delia ('Dell'), the last of the Spencer sisters to marry off. An explosion rocks the festivities and the sight of the blaze is rapidly approaching their safe haven. Chicago is ablaze and the formidable fire is proving it isn't selective toward the intended destruction it plans to leave behind in its wake. As pandemonium escalates and the guests trample one upon the other to escape the rapidly approaching flames, Dell is separated from her family. Earlier in the evening, she had met the infamous Marshall Field. He has hold of her hand now and is guiding her to safety in one moment only for the two to be separated in the next. When Dell is finally reunited with her family, she has a fleeting recollection of that moment in time when she and Marshall Field met. Somewhere in the depths of her soul, she knew this was not happenstance. Sadly, life had another plan for her. The journey of Delia Spencer and Marshall Field coming together was a road filled with obstacles of desperation, heartache and insurmountable tests and their ultimate reality would be the fact there are no guarantees in life in the end. Renee Rosen has written a wonderfully historical account of an epic period of time in retail history. She plays out the behind-the-scenes life and times of the front-facing retail magnate Marshall Field--a man who refused to give up and embrace the challenge of constant do-over's bigger and better each time in his complex life. Ms. Rosen strategically plants the seed of forbidden love between Marsh Field and Dell Spencer in "Scarlet Letter" fashion that deliciously treats her audience to the shock and awe of watching the plot grow. There is a lot to be said when the formula of wealth and taboo come together and Rosen is a master at spinning the twists and turns. The writing has a solid pace and Ms. Rosen knows how to breath credible life into characters that blend perfectly with the times. I am always pleased to read a body of work that is injected with renowned historical account. Ms. Rosen has done her homework and done it well. She has used her detailed research and penned an intriguing story about the life and times of the man responsible for the retail empire: Marshall Field's. This is a fantastically written book and without question, an engaging read. Quill says: Renee Rosen definitely gives the reader what he/she wants in her latest novel, What the Lady Wants.