Part love story, part lush description of New York social history, Rosedale in Love is a multi-layered look of New York society at the turn of the century from the point-of-view of Jewish characters who are outside of the social strata while completely remaking that world as they enter it.
Author Lev Raphael tells the tale of turn-of-the-century New York society, when New York as we know it is still finding itself. Perhaps not surprisingly, the city is already full of the very things it is known for today: wealth, social status, intrigue and scandal. Here we have a love story between Simon Rosedale, a man who is just making his way up the New York social ladder, having to “redeem” not only his status as a Jew, but also the memory of his mother’s choice of marriage to someone out of favor with the family. The object of his love is Lily Bart, and it is no coincidence that she bears the same name as the doomed girl in Edith Wharton’s “House of Mirth”. A beautiful woman, Lily hovers just on the edge of that same society, her own family’s past forcing her to take desperate measures to maintain her own precarious position.
But, this is no simple love story. There is another woman in love with Rosedale. If he could only turn his eyes from the beautiful Lily and the allure she holds over him, he might discover the true love that has been close to him all the time. Will he open his eyes and cast aside his dreams for social acceptance to accept the genuine love that is before him? Or will he risk everything to achieve Lily’s attention?
These are the obstacles and quandaries at the novel’s heart. There is also social climbing, loss of family status and the fight to regain it, marriages that leave stains upon the family name and orphans adrift. Raphael has done his homework in this extremely well-written novel, and includes history and current events of the time period that completely immerse the reader in a world of spectacle, ceremony, gossip and intrigue that makes the era, and the characters, come alive.
Reviewed by CynthiaDarling for IndieReader