Relative Fortunes by Marlowe Benn
Published: August 2019 – Lake Union
Book courtesy of the publisher and Little Bird Publicity
Description: In 1924 Manhattan, women’s suffrage is old news. For sophisticated booklover Julia Kydd, life’s too short for politics. With her cropped hair and penchant for independent living, Julia wants only to launch her own new private press. But as a woman, Julia must fight for what’s hers—including the inheritance her estranged half brother, Philip, has challenged, putting her aspirations in jeopardy.
When her friend’s sister, Naomi Rankin, dies suddenly of an apparent suicide, Julia is shocked at the wealthy family’s indifference toward the ardent suffragist’s death. Naomi chose poverty and hardship over a submissive marriage and a husband’s control of her money. Now, her death suggests the struggle was more than she could bear.
Julia, however, is skeptical. Doubtful of her suspicions, Philip proposes a glib wager: if Julia can prove Naomi was in fact murdered, he’ll drop his claims to her wealth. Julia soon discovers Naomi’s life was as turbulent and enigmatic as her death. And as she gets closer to the truth, Julia sees there’s much more at stake than her inheritance… (publisher)
My take: Julia Kydd sails from England to New York with the sole purpose of claiming her inheritance upon her 25th birthday. That evolves into a fight with her half-brother that keeps her in New York longer than she’d expected. They strike a deal – a bet, really – in which the winnings (the inheritance) will go to the victor. I won’t spoil by revealing more. What I can say is that fans of historical mysteries, a post WWI New York City setting, and snappy writing of the era will probably enjoy Relative Fortunes as much as I did. I’ll be watching for the second book in the Julia Kidd series.
About the author:
Marlowe Benn (who also writes as Megan Benton) was nominated for UCLA’s 2013 Kirkwood Prize for fiction. Her poetry has appeared in the Chicago Review and other outlets, and her history of American book culture between the wars, Beauty and the Book, was published by Yale University Press in 2000.