Please see the end of the review for details on how to enter for book Giveaway of Incognito!
New York City, 1911. Representing the widow of a Wall Street financier, lawyer William Dysart travels to a small Long Island town with a generous offer for Miss Sybil Curtis’s cottage and five acres of land. But when Sybil refuses to sell, the widow threatens to use her influence with the state to seize the property.
Intrigued by Sybil’s defiance and afflicted by a growing affection for her, William develops a desire to help her that becomes an obsession he cannot define, one that tears away the facade of his life, and presents him with truths he’s unprepared to face.
When I first saw this novel’s blurb I was immediately intrigued by “Gilded Age” and “Long Island”. Long Island is where I spent twenty years of my former self, and it would be exciting to be able to capture a bit of those memories and glitter it with the Gilded Age. Incognito is a quick summer read, with a bit of suspense, mystery and love all tangled up into a historical fiction novel. The dapper William Dysart finds himself in a horribly unromantic marriage but he seemingly has everything else while working as an attorney for a successful firm. In reality, he is still struggling to decipher his family’s past and the death of his mother from years ago. His father offers no answers and his wife offers no love. William becomes involved in a court battle between a high society matron and a small town girl of Long Island, and William finds himself drawn to the simplicity of this country life and the young woman, Sybil Curtis.
Along with William’s own secrets, there are quite a few to unravel to get to the heart of the issue between Sybil and the powerful Lydia Billings. Sybil has her own family mystery and is hiding a torturous secret while for some reason Lydia is willing to stop at nothing to destroy Sybil. William crosses the boundaries of professional versus personal as he becomes more and more attracted to Sybil, despite the fact that he is married to Arabella, the most beautiful woman in the city. It is quite obvious Arabella’s beauty is only skin deep, and prefers fashion, frivolity and balls as opposed to her husband.
Best quote from the book that sums up William’s thoughts on society:
“An impressive stage, he thought, on which to act out yet another of life’s foolish pageants sanctified by tradition and contrived to give meaning to the meaningless.”
While we immediately dislike Arabella, we are that much more impressed with William. Stumbling through the shadows of the past, William forces himself into the middle of the battle of property which turns into something so much more than he can handle. With threats of scandal and destroyed reputations, the novel pulled me into its clever web of deceit and treachery and I didn’t stop until I reached the last page. With a mix of elegance and evil our beloved New Yorkers were portrayed along with power, prestige and the contradictions of supposed blessings of the rich. I loved the exquisite blend of themes, with the many New York attitudes and the magnificent backdrop of Long Island, the city and all the quirks of high society as it were, once upon a time. Incognito is perfect for those looking for an absorbing novel that has much to offer within its small package, and is a fantastic debut for Gregory Murphy, who I can happily report is working on his second novel.
The publisher is offering one lucky follower of Burton Book Review their own copy of Incognito!
To enter, please comment on this review with your email address so that I may contact the winner..
This giveaway open to followers in USA and Canada, and ends on 8/12/11.
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