This novel, selected by the Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, and the Book of the Month Club, has been hailed as "Daphne du Maurier meets Edith Wharton". Set in turn-of-the-century New York, it is a tale of passion, intrigue, and murder.
©2002 Paula Cohen; (P)2006 Recorded Books LLC
"Smart, tender, witty and titillatingly libidinous, Cohen's debut fiction is a credit to the genre of the historical novel. Set in 1894 in the eponymous Manhattan enclave at a time when Mrs. Astor ruled New York society, the novel boasts vivid characters, both sublime and nasty, and a sly and absorbing plot embroidered with period details." (Publishers Weekly)
"Leave[s] us amazed at her ability to re-create a vital, graceful, almost elegiac world....An excellent piece of historical imagination." (Chicago Tribune)
"High society, mystery, and opera merge in Cohen's haunting first novel." (New York Daily News)
I love mysteries. I do not love romance novels. This novel has been mis-categorized by someone, which is too bad, because by the standards of romance this probably would be one of the better ones. Hey, if you like florid, cliched writing, goopy sentimentality, and stock characters, you will love this. Like most if not all romance novels, it's a re-hash of the Jane Eyre archetype. Like most romances, it's a poor imitation of the original.
I kept hoping it would get better or at least more suspensful (I DID find it in the "Mystery" section), but so far that hasn't happened. I feel like I'm stuck with it, because I'm not sure how one goes about returning digital merchandise.
I don't feel like the summary or the publisher's blurbs adeqately conveyed the character of this novel.
The narrator does a creditable job, but the pace of the story seems overwrought and slow. At one point a the narrator says of a character something like "He had never felt so tired in his life." To which I mentally replied "Me too, buddy." But it was just interesting enough for me to keep listening.
Eventually there came some scenes of pedophilia and death that were disturbing and repulsive. You might ask "is it possible to have scenes of pedophilia and death that *aren't* disturbing and repulsive?" And you're right - these subjects are horrible. It doesn't mean that they can't be valid subjects to arise in fiction. But in my own personal opinion, the situations brought forth in this book were too much for me to find any redeeming value in continuing to read it. Just my opinion, and maybe I'm more sensitive than most people. I just thought I would provide my thoughts as a caution to others.
This book will disappoint those seeking historical fiction, an atmospheric New York yarn, and/or an opera connection. It's a interminable melodrama that goes on and on like the Energizer bunny.
This narrator is pure pleasure to listen to and her command of the material is superb. The the writing itself full of compellling characters and exquisite descriptions, and the story holds layer after sumptuous layer all folded together with mystery and drama and an immensely satisfying range of emotions.
I disagree with the other review. I was pleasantly surprised to find Gramercy Park a gothic-style, romantic thriller filled with twists and turns from beginning to end. This is not a formulaic mystery or romance. I found the characters to be engrossing and Cohen's descriptions of 1890 New York life to be facinating.
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