Rosedale in Love, by Lev Raphael – A Review

Rosedale in Love, by Lev Raphael (2011)In honor of Edith Wharton’s 150th birthday yesterday, Kimberly Denny-Ryder has generously shared her review of this new novel inspired by Wharton’s The House of Mirth.

The Gilded Age of America is one of my favorite time periods to read about.  This is probably due to the fact that I grew up near NYC and also made frequent trips to the mansions in Newport, RI owned by the billionaires of that era.  The amount of wealth that was thrown around in those days is truly astounding.  To see the ostentatious nature of some of the landmarks of that era are mesmerizing: houses with elaborate ballrooms, private tea gardens, marble EVERYTHING, etc. etc. – you get the idea.  When Lev Raphael approached me about reviewing Rosedale in Love, a historical fiction novel taking place in the Gilded Age, you can imagine my immediate acceptance!

The time is 1905, and America is booming.  Considered the first real decade of consumerism and materialism, Americans were spending their hard-earned money in droves.  At the center of this madness in New York City is Simon Rosedale, a Jewish financial wizard who has big plans to break into the elite upper-class society that controls everything there is to control in the city.  However, not having any beneficial family ties, and feeling slightly outcast due to his faith, Rosedale sets his aim on marriage as his way in to this exclusive club.  Enter Lily Bart, a down-on-her-luck member of this aristocratic society who has recently been fodder for the tabloids.  Rosedale sees a way in via Ms. Bart.  She’s hurt enough socially that she just might take the plunge with Rosedale.  But would she really marry someone like Rosedale?  Would this make the gossip go away, or would it intensify even further?  Add into this mix Florence , Simon’s cousin who is secretly head over heels in love with Simon and you have one hell of a love triangle.

The biggest compliment I can give this novel is that Raphael’s writing style makes you feel as though you’re reading a classic literature novel.  Raphael’s cast of characters are crisply written with exquisite vocabulary that made me enthralled with the world and people he had created.  Not all of his characters are original creations though!  If the name Lily Bart sounds familiar to you, it’s because she is the main character from Edith Wharton’s novel The House of Mirth.  Rosedale in Love is a fantastic companion piece to The House of Mirth both in style and story.

As I mentioned before the characters of the novel are quite enthralling.  I can guarantee that you will have strong reactions (both good and bad) to each of the characters; I spent most of the novel wanting to smack Rosedale into seeing that Florence was right in front of him, while simultaneously wanting to give Florence the courage to be more assertive in trying to win Rosedale’s heart.  I emailed Lev upon completing the novel, asking him to please write a sequel because I wanted more of their story told.  (I’m not sure I’ve convinced him yet, but I’ll keep trying!)

The plot of the novel fascinated me, as it gave you a view of the gilded age from the perspective of a Jewish man.  You get a taste of how vain and superficial society was back then.  Even though Simon was making all of these men millionaires, it was too much to have him come for dinner or even attend one of their grand balls.  Their inability to accept him on the grounds of his religious background is utterly pathetic, made even more pathetic by the fact that this type of rejection still goes on today.  For some people the plot might move a bit slow, but I enjoyed all of the attention paid to details both big and small.  The descriptions of the clothes and buildings are perfectly done, giving the reader the feeling of being transported into the novel.

So, if you’re interested in the history of the Gilded Age, or just want to become immersed in an amazing land of power, money, and intrigue, I highly suggest diving in to Rosedale in Love.  You definitely won’t leave without being supremely entertained.

5 out of 5 Stars

Rosedale in Love, by Lev Raphael
Lev Raphael as Trustee of the Lev Raphael Trust (2011)
eBook (265) pages
Nook: 2940012391698
Kindle: B004X2ILRA

Kimberly Denny-Ryderis the owner/moderator of Reflections of a Book Addict, a book blog dedicated to following her journey of reading 100 books a year, while attempting to keep a life! When not reading, Kim can be found volunteering as the co-chair of a 24hr cancer awareness event, as well as an active member of Quinnipiac University’s alumni association.  When not reading or volunteering, Kim can be found at her full-time job working in vehicle funding. She lives with her husband Todd and two cats, Belle and Sebastian, in Connecticut.

© 2007 – 2012 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose

Follow Friday: Girlebooks

Girlebooks logoIf anyone hadn’t noticed, I love books! I work in a bookstore, I blog about books, a lot, and I have a household full of them. As a book reviewer, publishers and authors send me books weekly. I also buy *gasp* books, more than I would like to admit in this public forum. I have my special collection beautifully displayed in my ONE bookcase, stashes of them stuffed about the house, and boxes of them in storage. I am now maxed out on buying more physical books. Making me stop acquiring more books was not an option that I cared to even to contemplate. My solution was to buy a NOOK, Barnes & Noble’s nifty digital eReader. It has solved my space issues and also opened up even more possibilities of acquiring new books. Squee.

One great online source of digital books that I enjoy is Girlebooks, so I am selecting them as my Follow Friday this week. The “gals” Laura McDonald and Joyce McDonald  are experts at digital geeky stuff and offer many classics and some new authors too in a variety of digital formats. So who are Girlebooks and why are they so great? Here’s the low down from their website:

What is Girlebooks?
Much more than a simple ebook resource, Girlebooks aims to make classic and contemporary works by female writers available to a large audience through the ebook medium. The site was founded by Laura McDonald and her mom  Joyce McDonald with lots of help by volunteers and contributing bloggers.

Why books by women?
We love books by both men and women. However, if we may generalize, women’s most loved and re-read books are generally books by other women. The same is probably true for men. Also, as women authors were not always as celebrated and promoted as they are today, we are digging up many forgotten books that that we believe deserve a wider audience than they have.

What is different about your ebooks?
You can get ebooks in lots of places on the internet, but our ebooks are hand-crafted and professionally formatted. Each ebook has a linked table of contents and text reflow for small reading devices. We create covers, correct errors introduced by digital conversion, and offer the ebooks in multiple formats to accommodate most ebook reading devices. All of our ebooks, even the ones in the ebook store, are DRM free (no digital rights management). This means that once you download the ebook, it is yours forever.

• Here is a partial and prejudice list of ebooks that I have from Girlebooks that Janeites and historical fiction lovers might consider owning yourself:

There dozens of other classics that I could snap up without hesitation if I had the time to read them all, but I must stay focused on the tasks at hand and be patient.

All ebooks available for digital download out there from other sources are not created equal. It is all about the formatting, proof reading and editing – and the gals at Girebooks do a beautiful job.

♥ Great news! Girlebooks is now offering their entire inventory for just .99 cents. I know! You can purchase and download right from their website, or like me go, to Barnes & Noble or your other favorite online retailer and purchase directly. I just added Nachtstürm Castle: A Gothic Austen Novel, by Emily C.A. Snyder today, and can’t wait to read it (in my nonexistent free time mind you).

If you do not have a digit eReader, don’t despair. Did you know that Kindle and NOOK offer free app’s to download and read of your computer, Blackberry, iPad and many other digital devices? Here is the info at B&N and Amazon.

Enjoy Girlebooks everyone. They are a fabulous resource.


Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2001 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Girlebooks banner