Confession of a Serial Book Dater: Renée Rosen’s WHAT THE LADY WANTS

My goal is to read 30 books by the end of 2015 (rather than reading the first chapter of each before tossing ’em aside, which has become a bad reading habit of mine).

20893377With this in mind, I picked up Renée Rosen’s WHAT THE LADY WANTS.

(3* books down, 27 more to go)
*I didn’t review the 2nd book. It was Dani Shapiro’s STILL WRITING. It’s a book every writing should read.

Summary: In late-nineteenth-century Chicago, visionary retail tycoon Marshall Field made his fortune wooing women customers with his famous motto: “Give the lady what she wants.” His legendary charm also won the heart of socialite Delia Spencer and led to an infamous love affair.

What I disliked: The novel had a soap opera touch to it: adultery (check), hysterics galore (check), a bitchslap (check), bitchpushes (check), and by the end, because of the rushed pacing, it felt like the story went on a killing spree (check), with characters dropping dead in almost every chapter.

What I liked: I was expecting a historical fiction about Chicago and Marshall Field, but instead I got a swoon-worthy romance between Marshall Field and Delia Spenceer Caton (both historical figures). I enjoyed their blossoming relationship. **SPOILER ALERT!** What initially annoyed me was the plot twist used to justify Delia and Marshall’s affair: her husband ‘conveniently’ turns out to be homosexual and his wife ‘just happens’ to be a psychologically unstable laudanum addict with an “evil streak.” It felt very contrived, especially considering that there isn’t much historical fact backing this plot twist. However, after a few pages, the author managed to smooth out my ruffle feathers. And throughout the book, despite the soap opera, I can say for certain that Rosen is a great storyteller who weaves her words beautifully.

Favorite Passage: “Delia stood back in amazement. She’d never felt so important. This was a man who was respected by all for his tastes and here he had followed her choice. She realized she’d never really been taken serious—listened to—and by a man she respected to this extent. A burst of confidence awakened inside her. She held her shoulders back, standing proud. It was as if Marshal had shone a light on her, allowing her to see her true self.”

I recommend this book if you:

  • want to be swept into the world of glamor, scandal, and shopping.
  • love Rhett Butler, because Marshall Field (in the book) reminded me of him.
  • are going through The Paradise/Mr Selfridge withdrawal.
  • interested in the history of Chicago.

I mildly enjoyed this book, and now I’m leaving it for Joyce Maynard’s AFTER HER or I might try to finish Winston Graham’s POLDARK (I got halfway through then stopped after watching the BBC adaption Ergggg). Hopefully I’ll be able to commit to one, unlike the 3 other books I dropped before picking up Rosen’s What the Lady Wants.

POLDARK (Episode One): My First Impression


Summary: In late 18th-century, Ross Poldark returns to his Cornish tin mines after spending three years in the army to avoid charges of smuggling, leaving behind his sweetheart Elizabeth. On his return, having fought in the American War of Independence, he finds his father dead, his estate in ruins and Elizabeth engaged to his cousin Francis. In need of help he takes on a new kitchen maid, Demelza, after rescuing her from a beating bringing him into conflict with hostile locals.

Episode 1 Recap:

Screenshot - 2015-03-24 , 3_33_28 PMThe episode opens with Ross Poldark fighting a losing battle in the American Revolution. When the war ends, he returns to Cornwall, England, with a scar on his face and a wounded leg.


Screenshot - 2015-03-24 , 11_13_03 PMDuring the journey home, he pretends to be asleep while he listens to the whispers among people who have recognized him. Ross learns that his father–the libertine–is dead, and that he has inherited the ancient Poldark land. Continue reading

Death Comes to Pemberley (Episode 1): My First Impression

Death Comes to Pemberley is based on a bestselling novel … by veteran mystery author P.D. James. Her 2011 whodunit is a sequel to Austen’s most famous work. In Pemberley, Darcy and wife Elizabeth, now wed for six years and the parents of two children, find themselves caught up in a murder investigation after a body turns up on the grounds of Pemberley, Darcy’s ancestral home. -BBC

(Click to read the blog post: Who is the ‘Real’ Mr. Darcy?)

 . Continue reading

Period Drama Review: War and Peace (2007)

I love you…as I have never loved before…Have I any hope?
–Prince Andrei Bolkonsky

5nCJcQeWeqZU9sk5wLIS9Ie74wyWAR AND PEACE is based on Tolstoy’s massive 1000+ page long book. As I’ve not read W&P, I can’t say the adaptation is faithful to the book. All I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed the hours spent watching this series. By the end I was smiling and crying and had a pile of tissues by my side.

W&P is a story about love and forgiveness during the Napoleonic wars. To me, as I’m a major romance-junkie, my attention was mainly focused on blossoming relationship between Natasha Rostova and Prince Andrei Bolkonsky.

The naïve and hopelessly romantic Natasha first sees Bolkonsky at a party, which marks the turning point in her life. Not only does she find herself infatuated with the cynical (and married) Bolkonsky, but she, along with all the other women, discover that they will have to let go of their men. The men have been called to join the army to fight against Napoleon.

Bolkonsky goes off to war, and it is at Austerlitz that he realizes that man cannot live for glory alone, so he is determined to return home and refocus his life on his family—to love the wife he had been neglecting for so long.

However, things don’t turn out the way Bolkonsky planned.

His wife passes away and he is left in complete misery. It is during this period that Bolkonsky meets Natasha again. Her enthusiasm for life enchants and bewilders him. He eventually falls in love with her.


But then war tears them apart again.

Natasha is left to wait for the Prince for a year, in which her devotion is tested…

As for the Prince, when he returns back from the war, his love for Natasha is also tested by the changes brought by their time apart…

This is one of the very, very few period dramas that not only gave me heart-palpitations but really moved me to the core. It’s not to say that this was a perfect series. However, the issues I had with it could be overlooked, as the message behind the story was so powerful.  SO powerful that I now am determined to to finish reading the book (within my lifetime). If anyone has read it, please leave a comment, and tell me how great this novel is.

Period Movie Collection