Tuesday, April 20, 2021

A social call from Renée Rosen...plus a book giveaway

Introduction by Melissa Amster

I'm so pleased to welcome Renée Rosen to CLC today. I've read a bunch of her novels and have loved them all. (I still have two others to check out soon.) Her latest, The Social Graces (out today), actually got me interested in the Gilded Age, which had never interested me in the past. (Check out my review.) I recently got to "meet" her at my friend's online book club meeting and she was absolutely delightful. I'm so excited that she'll be speaking at my book club next month, as well! In all our e-mail exchanges, she has been so friendly and fun to work with. I hope you all will enjoy getting to know her better today. And thanks to Berkley, one lucky reader will receive a copy of The Social Graces!

Renée Rosen is the bestselling author of historical fiction. Her novels include Park Avenue Summer, Windy City Blues, White Collar Girl, What the Lady Wants, and Dollface, as well as the young adult novel, Every Crooked Pot. Her new novel, The Social Graces, a story about Mrs. Astor and Mrs. Vanderbilt vying for control of New York society during the Gilded Age, is now available from Penguin Random House/Berkley.

Renee is a native of Akron, Ohio and a graduate of The American University in Washington DC.  She now lives in Chicago where she is at work on a new novel. (Bio adapted from Renée's website.)

Visit Renée online:


1876. In the glittering world of Manhattan's upper crust, women are valued by their pedigree, dowry, and, most importantly, connections. They have few rights and even less independence—what they do have is society. The more celebrated the hostess, the more powerful the woman. And none is more powerful than Caroline Astor—the Mrs. Astor.

But times are changing.

Alva Vanderbilt has recently married into one of America's richest families. But what good is dizzying wealth when society refuses to acknowledge you? Alva, who knows what it is to have nothing, will do whatever it takes to have everything.

Sweeping three decades and based on true events, this is the mesmerizing story of two fascinating, complicated women going head to head, behaving badly, and discovering what’s truly at stake.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
I love hearing from readers and because I tend to mix fictional characters with real-life figures in my novels, one of the greatest compliments I get is when an email arrives from someone who was Googling my characters, surprised to learn that they weren’t real. When I get those comments from readers, then I know I’ve done my job.   

What were the biggest rewards and challenges from writing The Social Graces?
I think that with this book, my greatest challenge also became my greatest reward. When I sat down to write The Social Graces, I had a difficult time adding dimension to my main characters, Alva Vanderbilt and Caroline Astor. On the surface they seemed superficial and frivolous, so getting to the heart of them really took some doing. I had to drill down deep to find their humanity and ways to make them relatable to today’s readers. One of the things that helped was to think of Caroline Astor as the CEO of a major corporation, which was exactly how she ran society. Another was to think of them both not just as wealthy society ladies, but as wives, mothers, sisters and daughters. 

The good news is that I absolutely love the editing phase of the writing process. For me, revision is where the magic happens so while crafting the characters might have been my greatest challenge, watching them come to life on the page definitely became my greatest reward. 

If The Social Graces were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
Oh, what a fun prospect to ponder! I think Kathy Bates would make an amazing Mrs. Astor and for Alva Vanderbilt, I could see, Julia Garner (Ruth Langmore from Ozark). She’s young but such a terrific actress. I think she could bring all of Alva’s spit and vinegar to the screen. 

Which period of history are you interested in writing about soon?
The book I’m currently working on, about the cosmetic icon, Estée Lauder is set in the late 1930s and runs through the mid 1940s. This is a totally new time period for me to play with and spans the Great Depression, the war (though it’s not a WWII novel) and the economic boon that followed. 

Which TV series are you currently binge watching?
We’re very late to this party but have been enjoying The Americans on Netflix.  Also really loved Last Tango in Halifax, Lilyhammer, and Afterlife

What is something you learned about yourself during the pandemic?
I learned that I’m really good at working jigsaw puzzles and am seriously considering entering a competition. (Yes, they really do have puzzle contests).  I also learned time and time again how very fortunate I am to have love, laughter and good health in my life.    

Thanks to Renée for visiting with us and to Berkley for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends April 26th at midnight EST.


Jane said...

I really want to read and win this book. Looks like a great read. Thanks!

Nancy said...

I safely socialized with someone today.

allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

Carla S. said...

We safely socialized with our next-door neighbors on Easter Sunday. We were outside and distanced.

traveler said...

I see my grandchildren daily and on the weekends throughout this entire year.

Kelley Blair said...

My children a few weeks ago.

jodi marinich said...

we are still hanging with my best friends family....

Mary C said...

Met three friends for lunch yesterday.

Mary Preston said...

I chatted to friends over the fence.

bn100 said...

months ago

Sylvia Buonanni said...

I am lucky enough to have a Pilates group I can socialize, and exercise, with. I go twice a week.

Rita Wray said...

Last week.

Shawna G said...

I learned that I am quite happy to spend day after day reading in my pj's!

Bonnie K. said...

We help care for our grandson; so, we are around him regularly. I haven't hugged my son or any other members of my family in a long while. Still playing it safe. The last time we had a social gathering was when my daughter came in December to exchange gifts. We wore our masks and ate outside. I will be taking trifle and a bunch of flowers to my mother in May. I haven't decided if we'll hug yet. We have been vaccinated; so, I think they say it's ok to hug a family member.

holdenj said...

My son came over for Easter!

rubynreba said...

I visited with 2 life long friends last week.

Toni Laliberte said...

I always safely socialize