Amber Brock's novel transported me back to the early 1900's - to life in New York City for a young married woman, and ten years prior to that, to the life of a college girl attending Vassar.
Brock's novel moves between 1913 at Vassar and 1923 in New York.
Vera Bellington is part of the social elite. She and her husband, Arthur, live in the prestigious Angelus penthouse on Park Avenue. They socialize with other wealthy couples in New York, and from the outside life looks idyllic.
However, Vera is lonely. Her husband is always working - at least that's what he claims. Vera would like to believe him, but she knows that while she spends her time alone at home, her husband is spending time with different women.
When Vera was in college, she and her best friend, Bea, enjoyed studying art - and Bea's wild side added a great deal of adventure and fun to their college days. Bea can hardly believe that Vera is willing to leave college to marry Arthur, a man ten years her senior, who will always care for her, but isn't someone who has won her heart.
There is some reason that Vera and Bea are no longer in contact, and as the novel moves back and forth in time, bits of their friendship is revealed, and eventually what caused their long-term rift is also disclosed.
As Vera's loneliness overwhelms her at times, she works with a group of ladies to invite an artist into their midst to create a mural on the pool room wall. Emil arrives from France, and most of the ladies are caught up with the idea of having this wonderful man residing in the Angelus. At first Vera is not as open to a friendship with Emil, but her knowledge of art, and his knack of being present at opportune times, allows them to spend some time together.
Brock's novel was a perfect combination of suspense, romance, and a re-creation of the early 1900s. I absolutely felt as though I could envision (and even become a part of) Bea and Vera together at Vassar, and later of Vera's life in New York in the Angelus.
I can't wait to read more from Brock in the future.