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Review: The Girl on the Velvet Swing by Simon Baatz

The Girl in the Velvet Swing by Simon Baatz releases 1/16/18 from  Mulholland Books


Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. 

First of all, let's judge this book by its cover. Ripped headlines of "sex, murder, and madness at the dawn of the twentieth century" pasted over a black and white photo of a beautiful girl. Well, this definitely has my attention! After a little reading into the summary I learned that in 1901, sixteen year old chorus girl, Evelyn Nesbit, dined alone with 47 year old architect Stanford White, the foremost architect of the day. After drinking a glass of champagne, Evelyn lost consciousness and awoke to fin that White had raped her. She told no one about what had happened and even continued to spend time with White. She later confided in her husband, Harry Thaw. In 1906, at a performance in Madison Square Garden (a building designed by White) Thaw shot White as an act of revenge. Shocking! But the story doesn't end there! That maybe covers what the first 1/3 of the book consists of. The remaining 2/3 of the book gets totally wild with Thaw's multiple trials. Evelyn Nesbit's testimony was so shocking that Anthony Comstock and Teddy Roosevelt tried to get the newspapers not to print it! Add to this state hospitals, payoffs, prisons, and a game of hot potato between several states and Canada with who was in charge of holding Harry Thaw! This book was fascinating in giving its glimpse into a time when New York was booming and massive fortunes were able to buy *almost* anything. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to read about freedom of the press, the Comstock laws, the intricacies and problems of an early 1900s trial, and a decadent era in United States history that was far from boring. 

3 comments

Lizzie Harwood said...

Wow, this does sound riveting! Kind of like a Tess of the d'Urbervilles if Angel had gone vigilante on Alex and then faced justice....
Thanks for such an interesting review.

Rhiannon Johnson said...

I've not read Tess of the d'Ubervilles!! I'm thinking now that I have to!

Judy Krueger said...

It sounds quite timely as a matter of fact. I like your review.