cover image All My Secrets: A Gilded Age Novel

All My Secrets: A Gilded Age Novel

Lynn Austin. Tyndale, $29.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4964-3744-0

Austin (Long Way Home) sets this engrossing family drama against a cloistered, glittering world of Gilded Age wealth. When New York City business magnate Arthur Stanhope III dies in 1898, leaving his fortune to his male next of kin (a “weaselly” old uncle), the Stanhope women—Arthur’s mother Junietta, wife Sylvia, and daughter Adelaide—are left adrift and uncertain of the future. Eager to hang onto their mansion and lavish lifestyle, Sylvia decides that 19-year-old Adelaide must marry a man of means. But Junietta has other ideas—“You can go anywhere and be anything want to be,” she tells her granddaughter, recalling how she’d been trapped by the rigid rules of her own high-society upbringing. Adelaide endures her mother’s dinner party setups until she starts to fall for the family’s young, middle-class lawyer. As issues with the mansion crest, Sylvia weighs whether to remain hostage to the rules of the upper crust, Junietta reflects on past regrets and a lost romance, and Adelaide must decide if true love is worth sacrificing her place in high-society New York. Austin brings a complex tangle of family bonds to life with nuance, delivering an inspiring message about the value of following one’s heart in the face of social pressures. The result will please Austin’s fans and should win her some new ones. (Feb.)