New York Society in the Gilded Age: Background information when reading A Well-Behaved Woman

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A Well-Behaved Woman

A Novel of the Vanderbilts

by Therese Anne Fowler

A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler X
A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler
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    Oct 2018, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Davida Chazan
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About this Book

New York Society in the Gilded Age

This article relates to A Well-Behaved Woman

Caroline AstorMost of the first half of Therese Anne Fowler's A Well-Behaved Woman focuses on Alva Vanderbilt's efforts to break into New York society, which was ruled by a small group of families during what is known as the Gilded Age (1870s-1900). The doyenne of New York society at the time was Caroline Astor who, aided by Ward McAllister, a Savannah-born self-appointed arbiter of high society, not only codified what was considered proper behavior but also who was acceptable in their high society. Ward McAllister is best remembered today for coining the term "The Four Hundred" when he declared that there were "only 400 people in fashionable New York Society." This made me wonder about the rivalry between Alva and Caroline, and the criteria for getting accepted into this exclusive club?

The original name for New York was New Amsterdam, which is the first clue to understanding the origins of the era's high society – being a direct descendant of one of the first Dutch ...

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