Giveaway Winners Announced for Rosedale in Love

Rosedale in Love, by Lev Raphael (2011)43 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one of three copies of a digital edition of Rosedale in Love, by Lev Raphael.

The winners drawn at random are:

  • Mary Ann Potter who left a comment on January 24, 2012
  • Laura’s Reviews who left a comment on January 24, 2012
  • Evangeline Holland who left a comment on January 27, 2012

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by February 8, 2012. Electronic shipment internationally.

Thanks to all who left comments, and to author Lev Raphael for helping us celebrate Edith Wharton’s 150th birthday.

© 2007 – 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

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

Hello Wharton Abbey: In Celebration of Edith Wharton’s 150th Birthday: Her Novels and Their Legacy: Guest Blog by Lev Raphael

Edith Wharton's copies of her works at The Mount. © Photo by David Dashiell

“True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision.” – Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton, Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, designer, and taste-setter of her time was born 150 years ago today. Huzzah!

Author and designer Edith WhartonRenowned for her novels: The House of Mirth (1905), Ethan Frome (1911), The Age of Innocence (1920), and last unfinished work, The Buccaneers (1938), Wharton was also an incredibly talented garden and interior designer writing two of my favorite classic design books in my personal collection: Italian Villas and Their Gardens (1904) and The Decoration of Houses (1897). Many of her works have been adapted into movies including three standouts: The Age of Innocence (1993), The Buccaneers (1995), which has thematic ties to the wildly popular mini-series Downton Abbey, whose second season is currently airing on Masterpiece Classic PBS, and The Old Maid (1939), the Warner Bros. classic starring Bette Davis. My mother introduced me to this movie as a teenager, and like her indoctrination to the classics by film with Pride and Prejudice (1940,) it piqued my interest enough to seek Wharton out and read the original novella. Thanks mom! Besides Austen and Cooper, Wharton is on my top five list of favorite authors.

Edith Wharton's works adapted into movies

In celebration of Wharton’s sesquicentennial birthday, author Lev Raphael has generously contributed a guest blog honoring Wharton, his fascination of The Gilded Age, Downton Abbey and his new novel Rosedale in Love.  

Wharton Abbey

Overwhelmed by the cascading changes at Downton Abbey, Maggie Smith’s indomitable Dowager Countess complains in Season One, “”Sometimes I feel as if I were living in an H.G. Wells novel.”

Watching Downton Abbey, I’ve found find myself feeling I’m living in an Edith Wharton novel.  More than one, in fact. Wharton’s novel The Buccaneer, unfinished at her death, was all about American wealthy young woman like Cora who were launched like arrows to hit titled English targets.  Born in 1862 to old New York money, Wharton observed this international exchange as America’s Gilded Age burst into lavish bloom.  Her native city of New York was a frenzy of building, money, and that modern invention we take for granted: publicity, which the Downton family is desperate to avoid.

House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton (Oxford Worlds Classics) 2009The series is imbued with the preoccupations of Wharton’s fiction.  As in The House of Mirth, the Grantham girls have few choices aside from marrying a man, preferably one with money.  New money like Sir Richard Carlisle’s may be suspect, but money is the drumbeat, even when people claim not to care about it.  Acquiring money, and the status and safety it brings, obsesses Lily Bart, the heroine of The House of Mirth, Wharton’s 1905 best seller.

Wharton lived in France during World War One, whose impact we’re seeing in the show right now, and she wrote a powerful novel, A Son at the Front, about the surprisingly high cost of war for those who aren’t in the trenches.  When war broke out, she worked with astounding energy to aid the French war effort through fund-raising and solving the refugee crisis.  But she was more than a combination of Lady Cora and Mrs. Crawley: she visited the front and wrote about it, and her extraordinary efforts earned her the highest civilian honors Belgium and France could bestow.

Wharton challenged convention by being intellectual and an author.  However, she was still a product of her class, which frowned on arrivistes of all kinds, especially Jews, who symbolized the vast social and financial changes rocking her comfortable world.  In The House of Mirth, her one Jewish character, wealthy Simon Rosedale, is frantic for status and vainly pursues Lily Bart, the faded society flower who finds him repulsive when he isn’t ridiculous.  Wharton relied heavily on stereotype to create him: he’s flamboyant, vulgar, buffonish, speaks bad English.

Rosedale in Love, by Lev Raphael (2011)His portrayal is an aggravating flaw in a novel I’ve read many times and love for Wharton’s profound understanding of how shame can crush our hopes–something that plays out again and again in Downton Abbey.  Having written two other books about Wharton, a mystery and a critical study, I decided to do something completely different: tell Rosedale’s unknown story.  Rosedale in Love is a reply to The House of Mirth, a book that gives Simon Rosedale a soul, a past, a family–that makes him human, in other words.

I wrote in a period voice, which I channeled after two years of reading books set in The Gilded Age. And just as Downton brings a lost way of life into our homes, I wanted Gilded Age New York to live for my readers.  I wanted them to feel the city’s obsessions, ride along its streets, dance at its balls, celebrate its weddings, marvel at its splendid hotels, dine at its elite restaurants, relish its remarkable extravagance, and savor its gossip.

So as you read the ebook, imagine it beautifully bound, pages freshly cut, being read by various denizens of Downton Abbey.  Think of Lady Mary or Anna pained by the sad search for love, Thomas enviously following someone else’s success, and the Dowager Countess sniffing at a whole novel devoted to “one of those people,” but ultimately admiring the main character’s courage.  After all, one of her ringing calls to action is “Don’t be defeatist, it’s very middle class.”

About the Author:

Lev Raphael is a former academic, radio talk show host, and newspaper columnist who’s published twenty-one books in genres from memoir to mystery with publishers like Doubleday, St. Martin’s, Faber and Walker.  His fiction and creative nonfiction appears in dozens of anthologies In the US and in Great Britain, and he has taught in colleges and universities around the country.

A world traveler and lecturer, his most recent adventure was his second German book tour for his memoir My Germany last fall, sponsored by the American Consulate in Frankfurt, and he will also be reading from his novel Rosedale in Love at the Edith Wharton in Florence conference next June (Austen and Wharton were major influences in his career). Visit Lev at his website Lev Raphael, on Twitter as @LevRaphael, and on Facebook as Lev Raphael.

A Grand Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one of three e-book editions of Rosedale in Love, by Lev Raphael by leaving a comment wishing Edith Wharton a happy birthday, or by revealing which characters or plot lines in Downton Abbey are similar to any of Edith Wharton’s novels by 11:59 pm, February 1, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, February 2, 2012. Digital copies are available in Nook and Kindle formats.

Happy birthday Edith Wharton. We know you have very little in common with the other Edith, Lady Edith Crawley, daughter of the Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey, but we hope that screenwriter Julian Fellowes will give her a new direction and a second chance, just as author Lev Raphael has done for your character Simon Rosedale from The House of Mirth.

Other Edith Wharton Celebrations Around the Internet:

© 2012 Lev Raphael, Austenprose

Preview and Excerpt of Pride and Prejudice: The Jewess and the Gentile, by Lev Raphael

Pride and Prejudice: The Jewess and the Gentile, by Lev Raphael (2011)I am continually amazed by how writers are inspired by Jane Austen’s characters from Pride and Prejudice. There are so many retellings and “what if’s,” recounting and elaborating on the relationship of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, our favorite romantic couple, that it makes my head swim — but — this may be a first! Pride and Prejudice: The Jewess and the Gentile, by Lev Raphael has just been release in eBook. It is a literary mash-up of our favorite novel with an interesting twist! Here is the publisher’s description and an excerpt for your enjoyment.

Get ready for Pride and Prejudice with brisket! Lizzy Bennet’s an Anglo-Jew with a Jewish mother, some Jewish attitude, and lots to say about Mr. Darcy, who has some serious attitude problems of his own when it comes to “Hebrews.” When these two proud people meet, is it still love at first…slight? Will prejudice keep them from bridging the gap between Jew and Gentile? Austen’s beloved novel gains new layers of comedy and drama in this ingenious mash-up.

“Hilarious and charming, genuinely delightful. An audacious reinterpretation of the divine Miss A which has one laughing out loud from the first page.” —Lauren Henderson, author of Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating

“Lev Raphael’s version of Pride and Prejudice develops a whole new dimension and Austen’s plot neatly accommodates the Jewish elements in this mash-up hand-made by a maven.” —Rachel Brownstein, author of Why Jane Austen?

“With a sly wit and deft hand, Raphael infiltrates the world of Austen’s most popular novel and plays a game of What If? that simultaneously creates something fresh and reveals anew the genius of the original prose. Never have the human foibles of pride and prejudice been exposed in such a delightful way.” —Michael Thomas Ford, author of Jane Bites Back

Excerpt

It is a truth universally acknowledged, not least by a Jewish mother, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

“My dear Mr. Bennet,” said his lady to him one day, “have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?”

Mr. Bennet replied that he had not heard.

“But it is,” returned  she; “for Mrs. Long  has just been here, and she told me all about it.”

Mr. Bennet made no answer but a sigh.

“Do you not want to know who has taken it?” cried his wife impatiently, for Mrs. Bennet (née Goldsmid) was a yenteh.

Mr. Bennet shrugged with all the energy his aged shoulders could muster.  “You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.”

This was invitation enough.

“Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a chaise and four to see the place, and was so much delighted with it, that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately; that he is to take possession before Michaelmas, and some of his servants are to be in the house by the end of next week.”

“What is his name?”

“Bingley.”

“Is this Bingley married or single?”

“Oh! Single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year.  What a fine thing for our girls!”

“How so?  How can it affect them?”

“My dear Mr. Bennet,” replied his wife, “how can you be so tiresome! You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them.”

“Is that his design in settling here?”

“Design! Nonsense,  how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them.”

“Indeed?  Is he known to have a fondness for daughters of Israel?”

“Mr. Bennett!  How could you!  One should not ask such questions. We do not live in the Dark Ages.”

“But we live in Hertfordshire, and the differences are not altogether marked ones.”

“Never you mind, you must visit him as soon as he comes.”  Mrs. Bennet had long despaired of Jewish husbands for her girls,  given their rural situation, and seeing each girl settled with any man of means whatsoever was her deepest desire.

“I see no occasion for such a visit. You and the girls may go, or you may send them by themselves, which perhaps will be still better, for as you are as handsome as any of them, Mr. Bingley may like you the best of the party.”  Mr. Bennet enjoyed kibbitzing, not least because his wife seemed ever oblivious to his meaning.

Mr. Bennet, whose grandfather was a Ben-David from Amsterdam, was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character.  He was oil to his wife’s water.

Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting, news, and kugel.

Author Bio:

Lev Raphael is a former academic, radio talk show host, and newspaper columnist who’s published twenty books in genres from memoir to mystery with publishers like Doubleday, St. Martin’s, Faber and Walker.  His fiction and creative nonfiction appears in dozens of anthologies In the US and in Great Britain, and he has taught in colleges and universities around the country.

A world traveler and lecturer, his next adventure will be his second German book tour for his memoir My Germany this fall, sponsored by the American Consulate in Frankfurt, and will also be reading from his novel Rosedale in Love at the Edith Wharton in Florence conference next June (Austen and Wharton were major influences in his career). Visit Lev at his website Lev Raphael, on Twitter as @LevRaphael, and on Facebook as Lev Raphael.

Pride and Prejudice: The Jewess and the Gentile, by Lev Raphael
eBook: Kindle & Nook

© 2007 – 2011 Lev Raphael, Austenprose