The Second Mrs. Astor by Shana Abe’ was not what I was expecting for several reasons. I love historical fiction but, this book didn’t quite hit the mark for me. It was just ok and I found myself taking many breaks and not exactly excited to pick it back up again.
I have to applaud the author for her diligent research. Because of the depth that she went, she encouraged me to look further into Madeleine’s remaining years. She died rather young. It was reported she died from heart failure at 46 years of age. She went on to have 2 failed marriages after her Jack.
I found it quite tragic that her parents were supportive of her marriage to a man 29 years her senior. It all boiled down to money and status. She was ripped apart for her marriage and snubbed by high society. Her step son was a year and half older than her and despised her. It was not easy. Jack died during the sinking of the Titanic and left her pregnant, 5 million dollars and his home on Fifth Avenue. She could only keep it if she remained a widow.
The book went between a letter Madeleine Astor was writing to her infant son and third person narration. There were times when the transition was not as smooth as it could have been. I love the letter and her honesty while writing it.
I usually lose interest in biographies and maybe this one was closer to a biography than historical fiction. If you love biographies and historical fiction, you’ll love this book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Thank you #Netgalley and #KensingtonBooks!
SYNOPSIS: Perfect for fans of Jennifer Chiaverini and Marie Benedict, this riveting novel takes you inside the scandalous courtship and catastrophic honeymoon aboard the Titanic of the most famous couple of their time—John Jacob Astor and Madeleine Force. Told in rich detail, this novel of sweeping historical fiction will stay with readers long after turning the last page.
Madeleine Talmage Force is just seventeen when she attracts the attention of John Jacob “Jack” Astor. Madeleine is beautiful, intelligent, and solidly upper-class, but the Astors are in a league apart. Jack’s mother was the Mrs. Astor, American royalty and New York’s most formidable socialite. Jack is dashing and industrious—a hero of the Spanish-American war, an inventor, and a canny businessman. Despite their twenty-nine-year age difference, and the scandal of Jack’s recent divorce, Madeleine falls headlong into love—and becomes the press’s favorite target.
On their extended honeymoon in Egypt, the newlyweds finally find a measure of peace from photographers and journalists. Madeleine feels truly alive for the first time—and is happily pregnant. The couple plans to return home in the spring of 1912, aboard an opulent new ocean liner. When the ship hits an iceberg close to midnight on April 14th, there is no immediate panic. The swift, state-of-the-art RMS Titanic seems unsinkable. As Jack helps Madeleine into a lifeboat, he assures her that he’ll see her soon in New York…
Four months later, at the Astors’ Fifth Avenue mansion, a widowed Madeleine gives birth to their son. In the wake of the disaster, the press has elevated her to the status of virtuous, tragic heroine. But Madeleine’s most important decision still lies ahead: whether to accept the role assigned to her, or carve out her own remarkable path…