Thursday, August 1, 2019

Book Review - Relative Fortunes


In 1924 Manhattan, women’s suffrage is old news. For sophisticated booklover Julia Kydd, life’s too short for politics. With her cropped hair and penchant for independent living, Julia wants only to launch her own new private press. But as a woman, Julia must fight for what’s hers—including the inheritance her estranged half brother, Philip, has challenged, putting her aspirations in jeopardy.

When her friend’s sister, Naomi Rankin, dies suddenly of an apparent suicide, Julia is shocked at the wealthy family’s indifference toward the ardent suffragist’s death. Naomi chose poverty and hardship over a submissive marriage and a husband’s control of her money. Now, her death suggests the struggle was more than she could bear.

Julia, however, is skeptical. Doubtful of her suspicions, Philip proposes a glib wager: if Julia can prove Naomi was in fact murdered, he’ll drop his claims to her wealth. Julia soon discovers Naomi’s life was as turbulent and enigmatic as her death. And as she gets closer to the truth, Julia sees there’s much more at stake than her inheritance…


Born near Boston, Marlowe Benn grew up in an Illinois college town along the Mississippi River. She holds a master's degree in the book arts from the University of Alabama and a doctorate in the history of books from the University of California, Berkeley. A former editor and college teacher, Benn lives with her husband on an island near Seattle.


This is the best book I've read this year! It's almost hard to believe that this is the debut novel for this author. The story takes you on twists and turns that have you captivated from the very first page.

Set in the 1920's in New York, the story takes us through what it's like to be living during this time. The story focuses on Julia, who is in Manhattan to meet with her brother and finalize her inheritance as she will soon be turning 25.  She barely knows her half-brother who is older than her and has been writing the checks that kept her in school and on a living allowance after both her parents died. She has been living in London and, during her travels aboard ship, she meets up with an old school acquaintance.  This chance meeting sets up a huge mystery that Julia is determined to solve as it becomes important to her personally to do so.

The author shows us what it's like to be a woman living during this time. Women do not have a lot of options as far as money or status goes. Or even legal rights, which we can't even imagine today. They are expected to act and live a certain way, and when they don't, they are shunned by both family and friends.

As the book progressed, I truly thought I knew who the culprit was in the story, however, over and over I was wrong and the ending was a huge surprise that delighted me! In fact, this whole book was a delight to read and I can't wait to read her next novel.

If you read nothing else this year, get this book and read it! It was such a good story with characters you truly learn to care about (or loathe, depending on who they are) and a book you won't soon forget. I'm giving it 5 stars, although, it truly deserves 10!

*This book was provided to me for my honest review by Little Bird Publicity. I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.

Blessings - Julie

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