Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing Shana Abe’s hot seller – The Second Mrs. Astor: A Heartbreaking Historical Novel of the Titanic. This is the story of the upper class families of New York in the early 1900s when the Astor family were the creme de la creme of the elite and privileged. A true love story emerges between Jack and his much younger love, Madeleine Force who also comes from a wealthy family, but not quite as elite as Colonel Jack Astor’s.
“Abé is an exquisite storyteller. Rich in detail and deeply moving.” —Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Magnolia Palace
“One of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. A gorgeous, phenomenal novel I won’t soon forget.” —Ellen Marie Wiseman New York Times bestselling Author of The Orphan Collector
Perfect for fans of Jennifer Chiaverini and Marie Benedict, this riveting novel takes you inside the scandalous courtship and catastrophic honeymoon aboard the Titanic of the most famous couple of their time—John Jacob Astor and Madeleine Force. Told in rich detail, this novel of sweeping historical fiction will stay with readers long after turning the last page.
Madeleine Talmage Force is just seventeen when she attracts the attention of John Jacob “Jack” Astor. Madeleine is beautiful, intelligent, and solidly upper-class, but the Astors are in a league apart. Jack’s mother was the Mrs. Astor, American royalty and New York’s most formidable socialite. Jack is dashing and industrious—a hero of the Spanish-American war, an inventor, and a canny businessman. Despite their twenty-nine-year age difference, and the scandal of Jack’s recent divorce, Madeleine falls headlong into love—and becomes the press’s favorite target.
On their extended honeymoon in Egypt, the newlyweds finally find a measure of peace from photographers and journalists. Madeleine feels truly alive for the first time—and is happily pregnant. The couple plans to return home in the spring of 1912, aboard an opulent new ocean liner. When the ship hits an iceberg close to midnight on April 14th, there is no immediate panic. The swift, state-of-the-art RMS Titanic seems unsinkable. As Jack helps Madeleine into a lifeboat, he assures her that he’ll see her soon in New York…
Four months later, at the Astors’ Fifth Avenue mansion, a widowed Madeleine gives birth to their son. In the wake of the disaster, the press has elevated her to the status of virtuous, tragic heroine. But Madeleine’s most important decision still lies ahead: whether to accept the role assigned to her, or carve out her own remarkable path…
“A touching, compelling, and haunting love story that will delight fans of historical fiction and enthrall those of us for whom the Titanic will always fascinate.”
—Hazel Gaynor, New York Times bestselling author of When We Were Young and Brave
“An engaging novel told with both heartbreaking care and vivid detail. The Second Mrs. Astor is historical fiction at its gripping and irresistible best.”
—Patti Callahan , New York Times bestselling author of Surviving Savannah and Becoming Mrs. Lewis
My 5 Star Review:
This book was most beautifully written with great details of characters and settings, taking us right into the times of the early 1900s – the ‘gilded age’, in this fictionalized telling about the true love story between two wealthy socialiates – Colonel John (Jack) Astor, and Madeleine Force. The elite travel in similar circles, which gave young Madeleine the opportunity to meet divorced Colonel Jack Astor – twenty-nine years her senior. The age difference didn’t seem to be a problem back then, as long as there was money mixing with money.
Jack and Madeleine were equally drawn to each other, and theirs became a beautiful and tragic love story. Once Madeleine turned eighteen they could and finally did marry, and with that brought the media press always hounding them. Jack decided to take his bride abroad to visit Europe and Egypt to escape the cold New York winter – and the press, where they shared a most beautiful long vacation, with rich, picturesque descriptions. On their journey back to America they sailed back from Europe on the brand new Titanic on its maiden voyage, and by this time, Madeleine was already with child.
The author does an amazing job of recreating the incident of the Titanic hitting the iceberg.The story will take us right into the lives of these elite families, making us feel we are right there observing the action. Abe did a wonderful job recreating scenes, and as one could imagine, there was a wealth of research done on this period, in fact, the author cites where she did a lot of the research, at the back of her book.
The love shared between Jack and Madeleine both, a pleasure and a heartbreak to read. Jack was a handsome, divorced, rich man who could have had anyone he wanted, but all his love was only for Madeleine. It’s their beautiful love story that keeps us engaged in the story, but later in the book when they embark back for their journey home, our hearts will sink along with the Titanic as we learn what was happening with the ship, what was happening with the passengers, and most of all, what would happen to Jack and Maddie? Would they make it to safety? No spoilers here, but we all know what happened to the Titanic.
After returning home and giving birth to her son Jack Junior – Jakey, young widow Madeleine must decide where her life will take her now. Does she keep her Astor status, will Jack’s eldest son from his previous marriage finally find common ground with Madeleine? You will have to read this beautiful and heartbreaking book to find out.