Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Book Review: The Eighth Wonder by Tania Farrelly

The Eighth Wonder 
Tania Farrelly
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Publication date: 2nd July 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Pages: 416
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Beauty & Lace Book Club 

About the book
New York, 1897. The richest city in the world.

Beautiful, young and privileged, Rose Kingsbury Smith is expected to play by the strict rules of social etiquette, to forfeit all career aspirations and to marry a man of good means. But she has a quietly rebellious streak and is determined to make her own mark on Manhattan’s growing skyline. When the theft of a precious heirloom plunges the Kingsbury Smiths into financial ruin, Rose becomes her family’s most tradeable asset. She finds herself fighting for her independence and championing the ideal of equality for women everywhere.

Enigmatic Ethan Salt’s inglorious circus days are behind him. He lives a quiet life on Coney Island with his beloved elephant Daisy and is devoted to saving animals who’ve been brutalised by show business. As he struggles to raise funds for his menagerie, he fears he will never build the sanctuary of his dreams … until a chance encounter with a promising young architect changes his life forever.

Just when Rose is on the verge of seeing her persistence pay off, the ghosts of her past threaten to destroy everything she holds dear. In the face of heartbreaking prejudice and betrayal, she must learn to harness her greatest wonder within.
My review
I really enjoyed this historical fiction set in the late 1880's. The Eighth Wonder is set during the emergence of the women's  suffragette movement with the main character, Rose, not prepared to settle as a rich man's wife, rather looking to a career in architecture as her future. We see great conflict here from her traditionalist mother who yearns for her spot in high society due to her daughter's marriage to the 'right man'. Her father is quietly supportive however I did wonder if he would have been as supportive of Rose if he had a son who could have taken over the architecture company.
A second story line is that of Ethan Salt, an orphan who runs away and joins a circus. Ethan becomes an advocate for abused animals, not only from the circus but those used in fighting rings for entertainment.
The Eighth Wonder is a captivating character driven novel. There are plenty of hurdles for the characters to navigate and one man's obsession with Rose will become highly dangerous.
There is an added mystery of stolen jewellery which gives rise to themes of classism. Rose joins the fight for better working conditions and rights for the workers in the manufacturing industry.
Tania Farrelly has brought 19th Century Manhattan, in all its glory and brutality, alive on the page. 
My rating   4/5   ⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Photo credit: © Tania Farrelly

Tania is an award-winning advertising strategist who has spent over twenty-five years working in Australia’s leading advertising agencies, telling stories for the world’s biggest brands. She has more recently built her own successful, brand consultancy, and has now turned her hand from brand stories to human stories with the help of creative writing courses at RMIT and Fiona McIntosh’s Masterclass. 
Tania was raised in Adelaide and has lived the majority of her professional life in Melbourne. She now lives with her husband on Victoria's Bellarine Peninsula.
Challenges Entered: Australian Women Writers Challenge AWW2021
                                   Aussie Author Challenge #Aussieauthor21
                                   Historical Fiction Challenge 

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