I was excited to read Love, Fiercely : A Gilded Age Romance by Jean Zimmerman for several reasons. First, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton is one of my favorite books. I was entertained by the novel The American Heiress, to which Love, Fiercely is compared. I've long been simultaneously fascinated and repulsed by the excess of this era at the end of the nineteenth century. I enjoy narrative histories and biographies, so needless to say I looked forward to reading this book.
Love, Fiercely is the history of Newton Stokes and Edith Minturn, both born into extreme wealth in New York City. Eventually they would marry, travel the world, influence art and society, and play their hand at philanthropy.
Full of information and details about everything in the era, Love, Fiercely excels as a history of the excess of the very wealthy and privileged class. Each home and summer "cottage" is described in detail, including having a Tudor manor house built in 1597 in England dismantled and shipped across the ocean and rebuilt in Connecticut. The author gives full histories of the art of the time period and especially the portraits of Edith and the famous statue for which she posed. Their service to society and Newton's career are discussed at great length.
What Love, Fiercely is lacking is the feeling of passion between Edith and Newton. Described as "the greatest love story never told" in the prologue I was anxious to read of their romance. However, the characters still remain flat and lifeless. The author shows only brief glimpses into their relationship and spends most of the time with describing the world they inhabit.
There were many interesting details about the era but ultimately, I found the book dull and disappointing.
** I received a complimentary copy of Love, Fiercely in exchange for an honest review. **