cover image Love, Fiercely: 
A Gilded Age Romance

Love, Fiercely: A Gilded Age Romance

Jean Zimmerman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-15-101447-7

In one of his most controversial paintings, John Singer Sargent captured the unconventionality of a young couple in simple street clothes that belie their wealthy Gilded Age roots. Zimmerman’s (Manhattan) unsentimental depiction of vibrant Edith Minturn Stokes (nicknamed “Fiercely” by her brother) and the cerebral but original architect Newton Stokes showcases the major episodes in the lives of the couple, whose stilted courtship led to lifelong marital devotion that lasted through success, fame, and eventual impoverishment. The force of character that Sargent captured in his portrait of Edith was also embodied as the sculptural face of the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition’s The Republic, making the young suffragist an icon of the era even as her husband designed greatly improved tenement housing for the poor and began the collection that would grow into his masterful six-volume iconography of Manhattan. More of an appreciation for lives well lived than a traditional romance, this biography offers insight into the wealthy during the increasingly progressive turn of the 20th century. 16 pages of b&w photos. Agent: Betsy Lerner of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency. (Mar.)