I think that I have already mentioned that I am a sucker for a good book cover and especially prone to snatch up ones that have an intriguing photo of a retro lady looking wistful and full of feelings. This selection method is a bit of a crap shoot. That’s how I found Beatriz Williams’ books. It is also how I stumbled upon this clunker. Which brings me to this book. This book. I have many feelings about this book.
The story goes back and forth between 1913 and 1923 in the life of a New York socialite, Vera. In 1913, prim good girl Vera is finishing up an art history degree at Vassar when she meets the vivacious Bea. Vera is drawn to Bea’s rebellious nature and as a consequence becomes a little less tightly wound. The two become fast friends under a near constant cloud of foreshadowing that takes forever to come to a head. On the other side of the foreshadowed event, the 1923 Vera is full of boredom, regret and loneliness. Stuck in a socially appropriate but loveless marriage, Vera is tasked with finding an artist to paint a mural in her upscale Park Avenue building’s indoor swimming pool. He’s young. He’s handsome. Do I need to explain any further?
Okay. I was not expecting much here. It screamed summer read to me and if I had just stumbled upon another Beatriz-like book, well, then kudos to me. I did not expect to feel so angry about it, however. A slow burning, sneaky anger that had me “Oh, c’mon, Lady!”ing through 3/4 of the book. It was a classic kept woman scenario: kept by her parents and then by her husband, expected to lead a proper life in high society with little to no experience of the real world and how to survive in it without money or man. I get it. I understand the era and the sheltered nature of her life but Vera was a Vassar educated woman. Sure, she didn’t know how to boil a cup of tea, but SHE COULD FIGURE IT OUT. There was entirely too much wishy-washy should I stay or should I go happening that it was maddening. It was way too predictable to be suspenseful and too frustrating to be enjoyable. I guess I like my heroines in these kind of books to be a little more uppity. Vera did not deliver.