An interesting old-fashioned Masquerade
I picked up this book for 3 reasons:
1) I was intrigued by the title. Masquerade. Which means "a disguise" or "to assemble in masks". This is a perfect word to describe the action between the two young ladies in the book.
2) The cover art drew me in. I enjoy reading about the Victorian Era and the Gilded Age, which is what the beautiful dress spoke to me as.
3) A plot where a maid blissfully switches into the mistress, and the heiress mistress becomes commonplace? Certainly!
Now that I've read it, my original excitement has waned. Sure, it is a great story, but hasn't turned into a favorite of mine.
The author did write this book with a Christian theme... YES! I'm very thankful for that. Without the knowledge of Charlotte turning to God for help in her troubles, I don't think I could have enjoyed the book as much. The train of thought that carried through to the end of the book was quite believable. The emotions that both Charlotte (mistress) and Dora (maid) maintained throughout each of their stories was right on track as they each adjusted to their new settings.
Other things I immensely appreciated about the story include the trip across the ocean from England to America. I have such a fascination for ships, and the accurate descriptions met my approval. I also loved reading the descriptions of the dresses and finery. It's the Victorian Era, and everything is decked out to its utmost for the rich society people. Yet, at the same time, I feel that when introduced to the slum areas of New York, the author was able to capture an authentic feeling of destitution and homelessness.
May I also say, introducing Mrs. Astor and Mrs. Vanderbilt into the plot. Bravo! Well done! Two important ladies in American history. I was pleasantly surprised by their appearances. To go along with this statement, there is so much history packed into this book, I am amazed at the volume of research it must have taken to piece the details together correctly.
There are definitely some plot twists. I think I'm still unsettled as to whether I can fully embrace these twists or not. A couple incidences seemed just a bit too "coincidental". In all the thousands of apartments that the doctor could have entered, he "just happened" to arrive at the exact one that would progress the story forward---which, by no logic should he have been led there---and there was another similar occurrence later on. Perhaps this isn't a defect in the writing, but I still am unsure how it happened so randomly to work out like that.
Notes: My least favorite parts of the story included the rumors of Charlotte's father being involved with another woman. In fact, part of this folly is one of the reasons why the rest of the plot came to be. Also, Charlotte is quite a flirtatious young woman herself. It is explained in the book that with this being the way she had been trained to act socially, it is the only way she knows of how to speak with male figures to get her way. Not my favorite things to read of in a book, but, it worked out in the end.
Overall, I did so enjoy reading "Masquerade". It really is the historical details and accuracies that saved it for me.