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After the Civil War, Alva Smith and her southern family find themselves destitute. She arranges herself to marry into the Vanderbilt family who is wealthy but, socially outcasts. Alva is determined to win respect after being ignored by the socialites from old money. She designed and help builds nine mansions, hosts grand balls attended by a duchess, and her daughter marries a duke. Alva also disrupts the norm for her time by asserting power in her marriage and becoming a leader in the women's suffrage movement.
It was interesting to read about Alva Vanderbilt who is a very complex person. I loved, hated, and loved to hate her while reading this book. I felt like the novel was a bit slow-moving and then in some parts, significant events were mentioned in passing. I wish more time was spent on developing characters than describing the mansions she built.
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