Today I welcome a new reviewer to the Great Thoughts family. Here’s Stefanie:
Incognito by Gregory Murphy is a perfect quick summer escape! I was able to start and finish this book in about a day, even with two kiddos, two cats and a dog all vying for my attention. Author Gregory Murphy quickly immerses one deep into the world of 1911 New York City high society, where status is achieved by one’s family pedigree, social connections and the size and extent of one’s material possessions. Murphy’s vivid descriptions of the popular customs, fashions, furnishings and even food of the time make it easy to dive right into this story.
Incognito centers on William Dysart, a respected New York City attorney from a prominent and wealthy family. William appears to have it all: the requisite family pedigree; a successful career in his own right; a full social calendar; and the cherry on top, Arabella, William’s stunning and charming wife who is the current “it” girl of the town.
Sound too good to be true? Yep. Arabella, despite her renowned beauty and outward social graces, is a childish and petulant social climber completely fixated on reading the daily gossip columns, maintaining her elite social engagements and keeping up with the Vanderbilts and the Astors. William’s and Arabella’s relationship is strained by her insatiable desires and his wishes to live within the couple’s own means. To William’s chagrin, Arabella often turns her substantial charms on William’s domineering father, who believes William deprives Arabella and who is happy to provide for her, even against William’s wishes.
The facade of the Dysart’s perfect life really begins to crumble once William is assigned to assist the law firm’s wealthy client, Baroness Lydia Billings, in connection with her purchase of a small piece of property on Long island Sound. Mrs. Billings intends to add the small parcel to her neighboring 2000-acre estate as part of an endowment honoring her late husband, a banker of dubious reputation. William’s job is to convince the owner of the small parcel, Miss Sybil Curtis, to quietly sell her land to Mrs. Billings without any negative publicity. But when William encounters the mysterious Sybil, she is not at all a “tough old farmer’s widow, who’ll drive a hard bargain” whom he had expected. Through his dealings with Sybil and her adamant refusal to sell the property to Mrs. Billings, William begins to suspect Mrs. Billings’ fixation on Sybil’s property may involve more personal motives.
As William is drawn into unraveling the mysteries behind Mrs. Billing’s determination to obtain Sybil’s property as well as his own fascination with helping Sybil, he also begins to explore his own suppressed childhood memories that have always haunted him. Will William discover the truth? Will he find happiness and fulfillment? You’ll just have to read and see for yourself!
Penguin Group provided a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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