The “Gilded Age.” New York City. Names like: Astor, Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Vanderbilt. This is the setting for Susan May Warren’s latest novel, Heiress, part of her new “Daughters of Fortune” series.
Two privileged heroines dominate the story. As daughters of a newspaper magnate in New York, they live the “good life,” rubbing elbows with the big names of that time. But riches aren’t enough for Esme, the eldest sister, who dreams of running her own newspaper and wants a life of her own making. Her sister, Jinx, pursues a society match and marries for money and status, only to find them worthless in comparison to love.
The storyline was extremely predictable, at times comically cliché, borrowing from overdone themes and characters. But it got me. I couldn’t put it down.
I admit, I reveled in the economic escapism this novel provided. Our news today is glutted with stories of poverty, recession, job loss, and inflation. But to read about a period of economic prosperity in our country, and the lavish lifestyles of the upper echelon of society, I’m transported away from today’s cares for awhile.
But then again, even in the midst of such prosperity, there are still problems. And that’s one message that Warren’s novel delivers home. Money isn’t the answer to all of life’s problems. Even when one has everything, it’s not enough.
While I can’t say that Warren does the best job showing that Jesus is the answer, the attempt is at least made. Most attempts at introducing Christianity come across as extremely forced and awkward. The novel would have been much better with out the sermons from characters. Actually, without any overt message about God. Because really, showing the emptiness of the riches, the struggles of this world, the reality of hard times, is a truth of its own sort because it reveals the world’s lies for what they are.
I rank this book with some of the finer “beach reads” I’ve encountered. It fits the bill for escapism, page turning, sappy romance, and sentimentality. You’ll find me on an airplane somewhere indulging in the next additions to the series. But I might just skim the parts when Warren starts talking about God.
Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for providing me with a review copy of this book.