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Publisher's Summary

From New York Times best-selling author Simon Baatz, the first comprehensive account of the murder that shocked the world.

In 1901 Evelyn Nesbit, a chorus girl in the musical Florodora, dined alone with the architect Stanford White in his townhouse on 24th Street in New York. Nesbit, just 16 years old, had recently moved to the city. White was 47 and a principal in the prominent architectural firm McKim, Mead & White. As the foremost architect of his day, he was a celebrity, responsible for designing countless landmark buildings in Manhattan. That evening, after drinking champagne, Nesbit lost consciousness and awoke to find herself naked in bed with White. Telltale spots of blood on the bed sheets told her that White had raped her.

She told no one about the rape until, several years later, she confided in Harry Thaw, the millionaire playboy who would later become her husband. Thaw, thirsting for revenge, shot and killed White in 1906 before hundreds of theatergoers during a performance in Madison Square Garden, a building that White had designed.

The trial was a sensation that gripped the nation. Most Americans agreed with Thaw that he had been justified in killing White, but the district attorney expected to send him to the electric chair. Evelyn Nesbit's testimony was so explicit and shocking that Theodore Roosevelt himself called on the newspapers not to print it verbatim. The murder of White cast a long shadow: Harry Thaw later attempted suicide, and Evelyn Nesbit struggled for many years to escape an addiction to cocaine.

The Girl on the Velvet Swing, a tale of glamour, excess, and danger, is an immersive, fascinating look at an America dominated by men of outsize fortunes and by the the women who were their victims.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2018 Simon Baatz (P)2018 Hachette Audio

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

"The Girl" is barely in this book

I got this book after being introduced to the story through "Ragtime." I hoped to learn more about Evelyn Nesbitt, but this was not the boik for that. She disappears from the narrative for chapters at a time as the author focuses on the legal journey of her husband, Harry Thaw.

Moreover, the story the author chose to tell was told in a very repetitive manner. For example, the story of Evelyn's rape at the hands of Stanford White is told in a virtually identical manner several times. Was the author trying to get his word count up?

We get a taste of what I wanted in the book in the epilogue, as he finally gets to Evelyn's post-Thaw life, but it is perfunctory.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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strange and interesting tale

Fewer adverbs would improve style.
Story held my attention. More discussion of the large legal and moral questions involved, such as the insanity defense, and whether murder is ever justified, would have been interesting.
Good reader.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fact based and interesting story

Well researched and very interesting book. I’d always heard bits and pieces of the story, but felt I got the rest of the story here.

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  • John
  • Chamblee, GA, United States
  • 01-26-18

It Proves Truth Is Stranger than Fiction

This book is a very thorough re-telling of the "crime of the century." Evelyn Nesbit, a beautiful teenager who had come to New York to make a living as a model and a chorus girl, caught the fancy of Stanford White, the most prominent architect of the day. She later married a rich man with a trust fund, Harry Thaw. Thaw then gunned down White at point blank range at a performance at Madison Square Garden, which White had designed.

Was it murder? Was Thaw insane due to believing that White had raped his wife? To reveal any more would spoil the story, but this tale has more twists and turns than you can believe. The book is well written, and reads like a drama, not a history. It is quite well done.

I thought the narration detracted from the story. I suppose the decision was made to have a woman narrate the book on the theory that the story is about Evelyn. More accurately, the first 40 percent or so focuses on Evelyn, but the balance of the story is about Harry Thaw. The actors in the legal dramas are mainly male. I found Ms. Lakin's efforts to imitate male voices (there is much dialogue in the book) to range from off-putting to laughable. Her effort to effect a French accent from a Canadian official in Quebec sounded a lot like a bad Russian accent from a cartoon character.

Overall, though, well worth a listen.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful