cover image City of Ash

City of Ash

Megan Chance. Broadway, $15 trade paper (448p) ISBN 978-0-307-46103-2

Leave it to Chance (Prima Donna) to pen a fine historical that's both a gripping novel and a study of the constraints placed on 19th-century women. When 23-year-old bohemian heiress Geneva "Ginny" Stratford oversteps the boundaries of propriety by posing nude for a painting exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1888, a humiliated Papa dispatches Ginny and her husband, Nathan Langley, to faraway Seattle, Washington Territory. Bad news outpaces the couple's transportation, and Seattle society snubs Ginny as she steps off the train. A virtual prisoner inside her own home, Ginny grabs at the opportunity when Nathan suggests she become a patron of playwright Sebastian DeWitt. DeWitt's new play, written for Beatrice Wilkes, a local actress who's become Nathan's mistress, inspires Ginny, who's blind to Nathan's ulterior motives. After Seattle burns to the ground, however, Ginny and Beatrice become unlikely allies. Stellar characterization, terrific dialogue, and a twisty plot make this story of old-time Seattle pop. (June)