In late 19th century Chicago, visionary retail tycoon Marshall Field made his fortune wooing women customers with his famous motto: “Give the lady what she wants.”
His legendary charm also won the heart of socialite Delia Spencer, and led to an infamous love affair.
The night of the Great Fire, as seventeen-year-old Delia watched the flames rise and consume what had been the pioneer town of Chicago, she couldn’t imagine how much her life, her city, and her whole world was about to change. Nor would she have guessed that the agent of that change would not simply be the fire, but more so the man she met that night…
Leading the way in rebuilding after the fire, Marshall Field reopens his well-known dry goods store and transforms it into something the world has never seen before: a glamorous palace of a department store. He and his powerhouse coterie— including Potter Palmer and George Pullman—usher in the age of robber barons, the American royalty of their generation.
But behind the opulence, their private lives are riddled with scandal and heartbreak. Delia and Marshall first turn to each other out of loneliness, but as their love deepens, they will stand together despite disgrace and ostracism, through an age of devastation and opportunity, when an adolescent Chicago was transformed into the Gleaming White City of the Chicago’s World’s Fair of 1893.
Praise for What The Lady Wants
Once again, Renee Rosen brings Chicago history alive in this fascinating story of Delia Spencer… A tale of tangled relationships and dubious morality, What the Lady Wants is captivating with a surprisingly contemporary twist.
Stephanie Lehmann, author of Astor Place Vintage
WHAT THE LADY WANTS is as fun and addictive and Chicago-licious as a box of Marshall Field’s Frango Mints. And, sadly, you’ll finish it almost as fast. A delight.
Rebecca Makkai, author of The Borrower and The Hundred Year House
WHAT THE LADY WANTS is a story that opens with the Great Chicago Fire and keeps on smoldering to the end. Rosen’s characters are finely-drawn… What the lady indeed wants may not be what you assume it to be!
Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist
What the Lady Wants has everything I love in a historical novel: impeccably researched details, a mix of real and imagined characters that are vividly and sensitively drawn, and a heroine who is true to her time yet feels utterly familiar. With Dollface, Renée Rosen crafted an unforgettable portrait of Prohibition-era Chicago; in What the Lady Wants she does the same for the city during its Gilded Age.
Jennifer Robson, International and USA Today Bestselling author of Somewhere In France
Rosen skillfully charms, fascinates, frustrates, and moves her readers in this turn of the century tale… What The Lady Wants contains all of the hedonism, decadence, success, and tragedy of the great American novel.”
Erika Robuck, author of Hemingway’s Girl, Call me Zelda and Fallen Beauty