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Perfect for fans of Jennifer Chiaverini and Marie Benedict, this riveting novel takes you inside the scandalous courtship and catastrophic honeymoon aboard the Titanic of the most famous couple of their time—John Jacob Astor and Madeleine Force. Told in rich detail, this novel of sweeping historical fiction will stay with readers long after turning the last page. Madeleine Perfect for fans of Jennifer Chiaverini and Marie Benedict, this riveting novel takes you inside the scandalous courtship and catastrophic honeymoon aboard the Titanic of the most famous couple of their time—John Jacob Astor and Madeleine Force. Told in rich detail, this novel of sweeping historical fiction will stay with readers long after turning the last page. Madeleine Talmage Force is just seventeen when she attracts the attention of John Jacob “Jack” Astor. Madeleine is beautiful, intelligent, and solidly upper-class, but the Astors are in a league apart. Jack’s mother was the Mrs. Astor, American royalty and New York’s most formidable socialite. Jack is dashing and industrious—a hero of the Spanish-American war, an inventor, and a canny businessman. Despite their twenty-nine-year age difference, and the scandal of Jack’s recent divorce, Madeleine falls headlong into love—and becomes the press’s favorite target. On their extended honeymoon in Egypt, the newlyweds finally find a measure of peace from photographers and journalists. Madeleine feels truly alive for the first time—and is happily pregnant. The couple plans to return home in the spring of 1912, aboard an opulent new ocean liner. When the ship hits an iceberg close to midnight on April 14th, there is no immediate panic. The swift, state-of-the-art RMS Titanic seems unsinkable. As Jack helps Madeleine into a lifeboat, he assures her that he’ll see her soon in New York… Four months later, at the Astors’ Fifth Avenue mansion, a widowed Madeleine gives birth to their son. In the wake of the disaster, the press has elevated her to the status of virtuous, tragic heroine. But Madeleine’s most important decision still lies ahead: whether to accept the role assigned to her, or carve out her own remarkable path…


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Perfect for fans of Jennifer Chiaverini and Marie Benedict, this riveting novel takes you inside the scandalous courtship and catastrophic honeymoon aboard the Titanic of the most famous couple of their time—John Jacob Astor and Madeleine Force. Told in rich detail, this novel of sweeping historical fiction will stay with readers long after turning the last page. Madeleine Perfect for fans of Jennifer Chiaverini and Marie Benedict, this riveting novel takes you inside the scandalous courtship and catastrophic honeymoon aboard the Titanic of the most famous couple of their time—John Jacob Astor and Madeleine Force. Told in rich detail, this novel of sweeping historical fiction will stay with readers long after turning the last page. Madeleine Talmage Force is just seventeen when she attracts the attention of John Jacob “Jack” Astor. Madeleine is beautiful, intelligent, and solidly upper-class, but the Astors are in a league apart. Jack’s mother was the Mrs. Astor, American royalty and New York’s most formidable socialite. Jack is dashing and industrious—a hero of the Spanish-American war, an inventor, and a canny businessman. Despite their twenty-nine-year age difference, and the scandal of Jack’s recent divorce, Madeleine falls headlong into love—and becomes the press’s favorite target. On their extended honeymoon in Egypt, the newlyweds finally find a measure of peace from photographers and journalists. Madeleine feels truly alive for the first time—and is happily pregnant. The couple plans to return home in the spring of 1912, aboard an opulent new ocean liner. When the ship hits an iceberg close to midnight on April 14th, there is no immediate panic. The swift, state-of-the-art RMS Titanic seems unsinkable. As Jack helps Madeleine into a lifeboat, he assures her that he’ll see her soon in New York… Four months later, at the Astors’ Fifth Avenue mansion, a widowed Madeleine gives birth to their son. In the wake of the disaster, the press has elevated her to the status of virtuous, tragic heroine. But Madeleine’s most important decision still lies ahead: whether to accept the role assigned to her, or carve out her own remarkable path…

30 review for The Second Mrs. Astor

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lisa of Troy

    Who doesn't like a book about the Titanic? The Second Mrs. Astor is a work of historical fiction which focuses on Madeline Force (Astor). This piece covers the time period of Madeline's first memory of John Jacob (Jack) Astor, their subsequent courtship, marriage, and travels. Of course, everything is leading up to their time aboard the Titanic which ultimately transforms Mrs. Astor into one of the most famous widows in the world. This book started off quite strongly and gave off vibes similar to Who doesn't like a book about the Titanic? The Second Mrs. Astor is a work of historical fiction which focuses on Madeline Force (Astor). This piece covers the time period of Madeline's first memory of John Jacob (Jack) Astor, their subsequent courtship, marriage, and travels. Of course, everything is leading up to their time aboard the Titanic which ultimately transforms Mrs. Astor into one of the most famous widows in the world. This book started off quite strongly and gave off vibes similar to Wild Women and the Blues. However, this book read a bit YA to me. First of all the foreshadowing was way too heavy to the point that it came off as incredibly fake (such as the time that Jack rescues passengers from another ship and Madeline asks about how cold the water is or a fortune teller saying that bad things will happen on a ship). The book seemed a bit low on excitement. Keep in mind most of us have seen the movie, Titanic, so I really was expecting this portion of the book to be really entertaining. The romance wasn't written particularly well, and the book went into way too much detail about how invasive the press was (the author channeled Princess Diana too much). When I read the author's closing notes, she said that she wanted to write this book as an older version of Princess Diana. But I really craved something that was unique. In the end, the book end up feeling ho hum with an entirely forgettable ending. In terms of historical fiction, this book did inspire me to look up additional information about John Jacob Astor and Madeline Force Astor. Overall, a solid historical fiction book about John Jacob Astor's wife, Madeline, but it was a bit too low key for my tastes. *Thank you, NetGalley, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest opinion.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kat Valentine

    What beautiful and enchanting love story with a hauntingly tragic ending from the amazingly talented Shana Abe!! I've read many of her books but this is my new favorite. With fabulous storytelling and a equally beautiful storyline that flowed flawlessly and page after page of beautifully written words. Its a book that makes you feel as if you are their watching Jack and Madeleine as they fall in love. Even with their age difference you can see that these two souls were meant to be and that a lov What beautiful and enchanting love story with a hauntingly tragic ending from the amazingly talented Shana Abe!! I've read many of her books but this is my new favorite. With fabulous storytelling and a equally beautiful storyline that flowed flawlessly and page after page of beautifully written words. Its a book that makes you feel as if you are their watching Jack and Madeleine as they fall in love. Even with their age difference you can see that these two souls were meant to be and that a love like theirs was a once in a lifetime love. From beautiful ballrooms to lovely summer homes where the elite and rich go to be seen all will watch the courtship of one of the richest and most handsome war hero's colonel John Jacob Astor and his pursuit of the lovely madeleine.With charm and charisma and a easy manner its no wonder that Madeleine falls head first in love with him. I loved both these characters so much and reading their last moments together on the titanic had me crying and so emotional. This is a beautiful story and I can't say it enough how much I enjoyed reading it. I'm so glad Shana Abe is back! I've missed her books so very much. Until next time Luv's 💕💋 Thank you Netgalley and KENSINGTON BOOKS for this copy💋

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joan Happel

    The Second Mrs. Astor is a fascinating work of historical fiction about the courtship, marriage, and tragic ending of Madeline Force and John Jacob Astor IV. At just seventeen, Madeline is wooed by America’s richest widower, 46-year-old Jack Astor. Their romantic courtship leads to an advantageous marriage for Madeline, but despite his families’ suspicions, she marries him out of love and not for his money. They soon leave on a honeymoon for Egypt, where Madeline becomes pregnant. Sadly, their r The Second Mrs. Astor is a fascinating work of historical fiction about the courtship, marriage, and tragic ending of Madeline Force and John Jacob Astor IV. At just seventeen, Madeline is wooed by America’s richest widower, 46-year-old Jack Astor. Their romantic courtship leads to an advantageous marriage for Madeline, but despite his families’ suspicions, she marries him out of love and not for his money. They soon leave on a honeymoon for Egypt, where Madeline becomes pregnant. Sadly, their return trip to America is on the infamous Titanic and Jack Astor becomes one of its many victims. Madeline escapes on one of the lifeboats but is devastated by the loss of her beloved husband. Returning to America, she is hounded by the press and shunned by Astor’s first family. Vivid descriptions and lyrical prose, as well as a well-researched story gives readers a feel for the time and setting. The affluence of 1910’s New York City’s elite, and the opulence and luxury of the Titanic are brought to life by the author. This was a wonderful addition to stories about the famous and not so famous passengers whose lives were cut short by the Titanic’s sinking. I highly recommend this for fans of historical fiction as well as those who want to read about the famous Titanic and its passengers. Thank you to Kensington Books and NetGalley for the e-ARC.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    1912. Madeline Forces narrates her story to her son about the father Colonel Astor, one of the richest men in the world. Madeline at seventeen meets Colonel John Jack Astor, divorced and nearly thirty years older. His courtship begins with a daily delivery of flowers. His wooing continues with his attention, which makes her feel as if she’s the only person in the universe. Followed by intimate excursions, driving along the coast and picnicking on small hidden beach by the sea. “They sat on the b 1912. Madeline Forces narrates her story to her son about the father Colonel Astor, one of the richest men in the world. Madeline at seventeen meets Colonel John Jack Astor, divorced and nearly thirty years older. His courtship begins with a daily delivery of flowers. His wooing continues with his attention, which makes her feel as if she’s the only person in the universe. Followed by intimate excursions, driving along the coast and picnicking on small hidden beach by the sea. “They sat on the blankets and dined on Limoges porcelain so translucent Madeline could see the shadows of her fingers through it.” When the nosey newspaperman upset Madeline, he teaches her how to handle them. The beginning of the story is very strong with getting to know the characters and their courtship. However, it slows down with the wedding preparations. It picks up again, when they decide to winter in Egypt. The journey back home on the opulent Titanic brings vividly the interior of the ship and life for the elite. If you’re interested in a Titanic story, then this might be a good choice. I want to say that at least one third of the book is set on Titanic. The story is written with beautiful prose and reveals a very talented writer. Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    Finally, a historical fiction book about the Titanic that didn't disappoint! I loved everything about this book, from Abe's lyrical storytelling to the vibrant descriptions of the opulent lifestyles of New York's wealthiest class in the 20th century. This book also did what all great historical fiction books do - made me google everything about the various players. I had to know what ultimately happened to Madeline Astor, if their dog, Kitty, was ever recovered from the Titanic, etc. Each chapter Finally, a historical fiction book about the Titanic that didn't disappoint! I loved everything about this book, from Abe's lyrical storytelling to the vibrant descriptions of the opulent lifestyles of New York's wealthiest class in the 20th century. This book also did what all great historical fiction books do - made me google everything about the various players. I had to know what ultimately happened to Madeline Astor, if their dog, Kitty, was ever recovered from the Titanic, etc. Each chapter begins with a personal message from Madeline Astor to her newborn son, followed by third person narrative of the storyline. It was a deviation from the norm, and I thought it worked very well. Madeline's character fascinated me, and her love story with John Jacob Astor felt very real and accurate from everything I have since read about it. Madeline was only 18 years old when she married the much older, newly divorced, John Jacob Astor, and had to deal with being shunned by nearly all of society's elites, as well as by JJ's son, Vincent (who was the same age as Madeline). I was totally drawn in by the slow build-up to their marriage, their honeymoon trip to Egypt, her pregnancy, and finally their fateful voyage back to New York aboard the Titanic. I thought Abe did a fantastic job at portraying plenteous information about the Astor's time on the Titanic in just the last one-third of the book. I have read many books about the Titanic, and I thought this one was one of the few that did justice to the events and especially the hours right after the lifeboats were launched and the boat sank. I was fascinated by the relationship between Madeline Astor and Margaret Brown (aka Unsinkable Molly Brown), and her intense dislike of Bruce Ismay (even before the Titanic sank, and he "miraculously" survived when very few others closely associated with the ship or crew did), and her difficult relationship with JJ's son, Vincent. My only wish was that the book had been longer, with more insight into what happened to Madeline after JJ's death and the birth of their son, as she was still a teenager. It was interesting but sad to read (from Wikipedia) that she married two more times after JJ's death and neither one of seemed very happy, as she was also twice divorced before her death at the age of 46. Overall, a beautifully written, insightful look into the lives of an ill-fated couple. I highly recommend this one to all of my Titanic-loving GR friends! 5 stars.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mei

    Noooo... No!!! NOOOO!! Whay, oh why did I want to read this? Ah, by the way, I DNF. Yes it was so bad! The heroine was a total harebrain... ...was totally useless... ... without a will to do anything, always complaining about insegnificant things... Yes, I know that this is about a socialite, but too much is too much! Noooo... No!!! NOOOO!! Whay, oh why did I want to read this? Ah, by the way, I DNF. Yes it was so bad! The heroine was a total harebrain... ...was totally useless... ... without a will to do anything, always complaining about insegnificant things... Yes, I know that this is about a socialite, but too much is too much!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    The Second Mrs. Astor by Shana Abe is an excellent historical fiction novel that tells of the short, but passionate (and famous) relationship and marriage of Madeleine Force and John Jacob Astor. I really loved this book. I am a huge fan of anything Titanic, as long as it is done tastefully. I already knew quite a bit about the controversial second marriage of Astor and his young, teenage wife, so I was curious to learn more about their relationship in this fictional narrative. Ms. Abe did a fab The Second Mrs. Astor by Shana Abe is an excellent historical fiction novel that tells of the short, but passionate (and famous) relationship and marriage of Madeleine Force and John Jacob Astor. I really loved this book. I am a huge fan of anything Titanic, as long as it is done tastefully. I already knew quite a bit about the controversial second marriage of Astor and his young, teenage wife, so I was curious to learn more about their relationship in this fictional narrative. Ms. Abe did a fabulous job bringing to life Ms. Madeleine Force and shedding light on her star-crossed pairing with “Jack” Astor. I was able to follow along to see where she came from, a bit of what her personality was like, and how she met and married Jack. I then was able to travel along with them as they were passengers on the ill-fated Titanic, permanently ending their partnership and future together. It was heartbreaking to see how Madeleine lost so much, her life changing before it had really ever begun. Still a teenager, pregnant, and now forced into a very devastating situation with a left-over family by law that were not the picture of nurturing to say the least. I felt sympathy and sorrow for her and the child she would bring into this world. I love how the author was able to paint her realistically. She was imperfect, flawed, and had her weaknesses as much as the next person, but one has to remember how sheltered and young she was during all of this. Anyone would have difficulty responding. I think she was stronger and braver then she realized, because she had to be...for her and for her child. This was a fabulous story, sad in places yes, but ultimately the story of a survivor...and survive she did. 5/5 stars Thank you EW and Kensington for this amazing arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR, Instagram, and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    I have had an intense fascination about the Titanic for years and when I saw this book on Netgalley of course I had to read and review it :P I didn't quite know what to expect with this book, but it was a pleasant surprise. The writing style was so engaging and drew me into the time frame and Madeleine's thoughts. The sense of time running out is felt from the beginning. A suspenseful book when you know what the end will be. I found John Astor and Madeleine's relationship to be refreshing and un I have had an intense fascination about the Titanic for years and when I saw this book on Netgalley of course I had to read and review it :P I didn't quite know what to expect with this book, but it was a pleasant surprise. The writing style was so engaging and drew me into the time frame and Madeleine's thoughts. The sense of time running out is felt from the beginning. A suspenseful book when you know what the end will be. I found John Astor and Madeleine's relationship to be refreshing and unexpected. I always was a little shocked by their age difference but if the real Madeline was anything like the woman depicted in the book, she definitely had a maturity beyond her years. The scenes surrounding the Titanic were so wonderful I wanted to reread them right away. The horror of it's sinking and aftermath was shown perfectly. This is definitely a book I'd recommend to historical lovers and Titanic readers as well. The romance was shown without digging too much into the intimacy of it. Nothing grotesque or eye-brow raising was written. There are a few kisses and desires shown before and after marriage. There is some profanity, few and far between amongst the pages. Definitely a book I won't soon forget ❤

  9. 5 out of 5

    Barbi ♉️

    The book was okay. The writing in my opinion was weak. Too romanticized considering the heavy topic it covered.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Deanne Patterson

    After reading a book a short time ago about Mrs. Astor, the mother of Jack I have been highly anticipating reading this book detailing Jack's second wife. Jack Astor was American royalty, the richest man in the world at the time. Being that historical fiction is my go to genre to read I devoured this. Historical fiction is fascinating because you learn so much from . A well researched book with many details such as this one is just what I am looking for. This took place in a different time that mo After reading a book a short time ago about Mrs. Astor, the mother of Jack I have been highly anticipating reading this book detailing Jack's second wife. Jack Astor was American royalty, the richest man in the world at the time. Being that historical fiction is my go to genre to read I devoured this. Historical fiction is fascinating because you learn so much from . A well researched book with many details such as this one is just what I am looking for. This took place in a different time that most of us can not even comprehend. The gilded era, where opulence ruled. I did a little research on the characters myself and saw pictures of the inside of the New York mansion. Nothing was ordinary believe me. It's such a shame it was torn down and not preserved. A scandal develops when ultra wealthy Jack Astor who is in his 40's courts and marries a teenager. She came from money so she was used to having high expectations of herself but nothing like she was thrust into after marrying a man three decades older than herself. This joyful union was not to last as a tragedy upon the Titanic takes his life during the honeymoon. A haunting love story that will be remembered long after it's read! Pub Date 31 Aug 2021 I was given a complimentary copy of this book. Thank you. All opinions expressed are my own.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Historical Fiction

    Find this and other Historical Fiction Reviews and Content at: https://historicalfictionreader.blogs... Am I the only one who hears Kate Winslet's voice in their head every time they look at Shana Abe's THE SECOND MRS. ASTOR? As with most adaptations, the Astors enjoy a cameo role in Titanic (1997). Few, if any, have placed the couple center stage, and I think that reality is what drew me to Abe's work. This lens was set in an angle I'd never seen, and I was excited at the potential of fresh pers Find this and other Historical Fiction Reviews and Content at: https://historicalfictionreader.blogs... Am I the only one who hears Kate Winslet's voice in their head every time they look at Shana Abe's THE SECOND MRS. ASTOR? As with most adaptations, the Astors enjoy a cameo role in Titanic (1997). Few, if any, have placed the couple center stage, and I think that reality is what drew me to Abe's work. This lens was set in an angle I'd never seen, and I was excited at the potential of fresh perspective. According to Goodreads, most of my peers enjoyed everything about this book, and I think that wonderful. I genuinely love seeing readers find books that speak to them, but my experience with THE SECOND MRS. ASTOR was tempered by a desire for it to have gone further than it does. Without putting too fine a point on it, I'd hoped for something comparable to Alcott's THE DRESSMAKER, a story that spoke to the survivor experience and the advocacy roles adopted by Madeleine and her contemporaries. Abe's story, however, ends amid the solemnity of funeral processions and black silk. I realized this story wouldn't touch on Madeleine's interest in women's suffrage or the support she lent the "twilight sleep" campaign before I'd finished the prologue, but I was surprised at the ardency of the romance Abe presented her readers. Tickled though I was by the thought of genuine affection between Madeleine and Jack, I was thrown by how easily the two came together. Like Sissi in Pataki's THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS, Madeleine wasn't the girl on whom her parents initially pinned their ambitions, and, like Consuelo in Harper's AMERICAN DUCHESS, there's reason to believe Madeleine's heart belonged to another before Jack entered her life. I give Abe credit for depicting the social stigma that characterized the couple's marriage, but the historical record offers more dramatic potential than her novel affords, and I can't understand her hesitance to take advantage of that. Critical though my opinion may seem, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend THE SECOND MRS. ASTOR to anyone interested in the infamous ocean liner. Abe's decadent descriptions of period decor, fashion, and jewelry are without rival, but I'm just not sure this title the best choice for those searching for profound thematic motifs or complex matters of the heart.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tammy(PeaceLoveBooks)

    I have always been fascinated by anything Titanic and LOVED this story of The Second Mrs. Astor. Truly heartbreaking at times but I was captivated by this book. A must read for HistFic fans!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dianne

    This was an extremely well-written novel about the meeting, relationship, and marriage of Madeleine Force 18 and John Jacob Astor, 46, the richest man in America. Believe it or not, this was a wonderful love story, and the age difference was not as big of a deal back then as it would be today. This a heart-wrenching account of what Madeleine had to put up with both during her relationship and consequent marriage and then the loss of her husband on her honeymoon. I do wish that this book had gone o This was an extremely well-written novel about the meeting, relationship, and marriage of Madeleine Force 18 and John Jacob Astor, 46, the richest man in America. Believe it or not, this was a wonderful love story, and the age difference was not as big of a deal back then as it would be today. This a heart-wrenching account of what Madeleine had to put up with both during her relationship and consequent marriage and then the loss of her husband on her honeymoon. I do wish that this book had gone on a little longer to see how she and her child's life developed. For those of you with Kindle Unlimited, may I suggest you look into reading A Night to Remember: The Sinking of the Titanic. For an earlier look at the types of families you would find in this book, may I recommend The Social Graces For those of you that like a lot of truth in your romance, I highly suggest that you read this book. I really couldn't put it down and wish it hadn't ended. I will be searching for other books like this one. ARC supplied by the publisher, author, and Net Galley/ATTL/Edelweiss

  14. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Davis

    The book was okay. I appreciate the degree of research that went into it. It was well written, but not as riveting as I had hoped it would be based on the scandal at the time. The section involving the sinking of the Titanic was reminiscent of scenes in the movie. I think I would have enjoyed it more had it covered Madeline's life after the death of her husband, her loss of inheritance, and her subsequent attempts at finding love again. The book was okay. I appreciate the degree of research that went into it. It was well written, but not as riveting as I had hoped it would be based on the scandal at the time. The section involving the sinking of the Titanic was reminiscent of scenes in the movie. I think I would have enjoyed it more had it covered Madeline's life after the death of her husband, her loss of inheritance, and her subsequent attempts at finding love again.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Genevieve Graham

    Such a beautiful book. Meticulously researched and exquisitely detailed, "The Second Mrs. Astor" is wonderful historical fiction, but it is also a lush, consuming romance. 'A love story for the ages', as they say.  Madeleine Force has no idea what she is getting herself into when she allows the charming, powerful, and wealthy-beyond-imagination Jack Astor into her heart, but she couldn't have stopped herself if she tried. She's loved him all her life, and he cannot imagine how he lived before he Such a beautiful book. Meticulously researched and exquisitely detailed, "The Second Mrs. Astor" is wonderful historical fiction, but it is also a lush, consuming romance. 'A love story for the ages', as they say.  Madeleine Force has no idea what she is getting herself into when she allows the charming, powerful, and wealthy-beyond-imagination Jack Astor into her heart, but she couldn't have stopped herself if she tried. She's loved him all her life, and he cannot imagine how he lived before he met her. Ms Abé has captured the magic and reality of true love in her words, and I wished it would never end. But of course this isn't just about a love story. There's so much more. Madeleine is like the Princess Di of her generation - not with her husband, but with the media - and even when the unthinkable happens - the unsinkable happens - she must face the hordes again. I loved the story, but especially the telling of it. 

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

    I’ve been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it a few months ago. I’ve always been interested the Edwardian/Gilded Age era and so I’ve learned a lot of the Titanic over the years. So kudos to Shana Abe for doing her research and writing a pretty accurate account of some of the less well known details ( like how lifeboat 4 really did rescue survivors from the water). Madeleine Astor has always been an interesting figure to me, how she grew up on the fringe of The 400 but yet en I’ve been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it a few months ago. I’ve always been interested the Edwardian/Gilded Age era and so I’ve learned a lot of the Titanic over the years. So kudos to Shana Abe for doing her research and writing a pretty accurate account of some of the less well known details ( like how lifeboat 4 really did rescue survivors from the water). Madeleine Astor has always been an interesting figure to me, how she grew up on the fringe of The 400 but yet ended up being married to John Jacob Astor. I thought she was a sympathetic character and her story came across as realistic, with the good and the bad that came with courtship and marriage to JJA. I enjoyed seeing the Astor’s friendship with Margaret Brown in this book too. I liked the format of this book, in the form of a letter to her son starting off key parts of Madeleine’s story. I thought the book ended at a good place, especially since Madeleine’s story after Titanic is not a particularly happy one. After reading and enjoying this one, I’m trying to figure out why I’ve never read Shana Abe’s Drakon series and I’m off to read that now! Thanks to Netgalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    THE SECOND MRS. ASTOR BY SHANA ABE While this historical novel was at times heartbreaking and sad, it left me with more questions than answers. It starts out with Madeleine Astor in the Prologue as what I construed was a journal entry to her infant son she calls Jackey. Telling him that she named him after his father whose eyes and swirl of fair hair that he was born with resembles his father. I was a bit taken aback that she looks down on her four month old infant and writes that basically this b THE SECOND MRS. ASTOR BY SHANA ABE While this historical novel was at times heartbreaking and sad, it left me with more questions than answers. It starts out with Madeleine Astor in the Prologue as what I construed was a journal entry to her infant son she calls Jackey. Telling him that she named him after his father whose eyes and swirl of fair hair that he was born with resembles his father. I was a bit taken aback that she looks down on her four month old infant and writes that basically this beautiful, healthy son can not live up to his father's image. I understand that she was grieving but how can you say to your cherubic angel that he will not ever be the towering image of his father. I had two son's and I fell in love with them from the moment that I first laid eyes on them. I never compared my love for their father with either of them. Then again, I wasn't recently widowed like she was. I would have thought that her baby would have given her hope and that she was lucky to have been blessed with a part of her dearly departed larger than life husband who was John Jacob Astor IV. I thought that it was sort of creepy how the author sets the scene that John Jacob Astor IV noticed Madeleine Force when she was only thirteen years old with his mother in Newport Beach, Rhode Island. His mother Caroline Astor gave Ava Vanderbilt so much trouble because the Vanderbilt's were known as newly rich and weren't considered old money. Caroline Astor would have never approved of Madeleine who was just three year's later seventeen when she starts dating JJAIV. There was a 29 year age difference and Madeleine wasn't in the same stratosphere economically speaking that Jack was raised to socialize with. I thought that Madeleine's parents were loving but I don't think too many father's of seventeen year old daughter's would approve of a forty-six year old man courting their youngest daughter. Unless Madeleine's parents were smitten with John Jacob Astor's money. However, in this writing her parents never seemed to mind or be concerned??? Not only were there three decades of age difference but he had a son named Vincent that was Madeleine's age from his first marriage who lived with him. He was divorced and it was stipulated that he could never remarry while his first wife was alive. Somehow Madeleine must have been more mature for her age or maybe it was different back then. If these details weren't facts I would have a very hard time believing that in fact these two were passionately in love and were married four months after they got engaged. Somehow they got around the clause that he couldn't remarry. I gave this four stars because Shana Abe fills in the blanks and I was convinced that the love that these two shared seemed real and deep. I unlike most of the other reviewer's was unaware that Jack died on their honeymoon on their voyage home on the Titanic. I had a lump in my stomach and felt like crying when Jack put Madeleine in life boat four and him and their loyal dog Kitty perished. It takes some pretty incredible writing and talent to recreate such a touching love story considering my preconceived disbelief that I mentioned earlier in this review. The research was taken from newspaper articles mostly but despite my misgivings I was drawn into this story and I would like to know more about what happened to Madeleine Astor and her son after the tragic loss of her husband. I thought that the writing was wordy at times but I am grateful for the opportunity to have learned about this tragic story. Publication Date: August 31, 2021 Thank you to Net Galley, Shana Abe and Kensington Books for generously providing me with my ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. #TheSecondMrsAstor #ShanaAbe #KensingtonBooks #NetGalley

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Skenandore

    This book was a pleasure to read! Shana Abe’s lush descriptions transported me back in time to the opulent world of John J. Astor and his second wife Madeleine Force. Their tender romance drew me in right away. Ms. Abe’s thorough research and eye for detail are evident throughout the novel, but particularly in her depiction of the Titanic and its tragic end. I highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and anyone with an interest in the Titanic.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany www.instagram.com/tiffs_bookshelf

    THE SECOND MRS ASTOR By Shana Ave Historical fiction 352 pages In this charming yet tragic novel we read about the second marriage of John Jacob Astor to Madeleine Talmadge Force. John Jacob Astor is the New York socialite and businessman of the 1900's. His family is very high up on the social totem pole and very successful.  When he marries an 18 yr old girl it rocked the society pages. John and Madeleine are truly in love despite what society thinks and this is their charming yet tragic love st THE SECOND MRS ASTOR By Shana Ave Historical fiction 352 pages In this charming yet tragic novel we read about the second marriage of John Jacob Astor to Madeleine Talmadge Force. John Jacob Astor is the New York socialite and businessman of the 1900's. His family is very high up on the social totem pole and very successful.  When he marries an 18 yr old girl it rocked the society pages. John and Madeleine are truly in love despite what society thinks and this is their charming yet tragic love story. I love reading books about people from the old social pages era and this one did not disappoint this reader!!!! You will fall in love with the Second Mrs Astor just as I did. Even though other people tried to bring their love down, these two love birds stayed true to each other until the groom's tragic demise leaving his young bride with their first and only child.   This is my first book by this author and I promise you it won't be my last. I highly recommend this book to all historical fiction fans.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Deraas

    Great book, well written, but sad. Bridgerton's society drama with Titanic's tragic love story. Great book, well written, but sad. Bridgerton's society drama with Titanic's tragic love story.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I absolutely loved this book! A tragic love story and the Titanic, cannot go wrong! I have always been fascinated with the Titanic. I have read about John Astor and knew about his young bride from another book I read a few years ago. Truly remarkable and haunting I cannot put into words how good this book is. Seriously!!!! If you can only read 1 book this year make it this!! Simply, tragically, beautiful story!!!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Charles Bellavia

    "The Second Mrs. Astor" was a Goodreads giveaway. It is historical fiction based around Colonel Jack Astor's marriage to 17 year old Madeleine Force, and the rescue of Madeline from the Titanic while Astor died in its sinking. The book misses its most interesting theme: Madeleine and Jack were the John and Jackie Kennedy of the early 20th Century. The author makes this point, but leaves the reader short. We read of Madeleine, an 18 year old, avoiding the press. We read of the press lined up outsi "The Second Mrs. Astor" was a Goodreads giveaway. It is historical fiction based around Colonel Jack Astor's marriage to 17 year old Madeleine Force, and the rescue of Madeline from the Titanic while Astor died in its sinking. The book misses its most interesting theme: Madeleine and Jack were the John and Jackie Kennedy of the early 20th Century. The author makes this point, but leaves the reader short. We read of Madeleine, an 18 year old, avoiding the press. We read of the press lined up outside of the mansions. we never read what the press wrote about them. We are left wanting to know how reality compared to early 20th Century writing. The book does not bog down, and I never contemplated not finishing it. At the end, I was left with a meal without dessert. Here was a women who lost the love of her life, but we never read why she later married a spouse abuser. There was a whole story left out.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laura Peterson

    Very well written book. I love historical fiction, and learning about people and events in history through the creative tellings of authors. The Second Mrs. Astor follows the love story of John Jacob Astor and Madeleine Force. Although their love and marriage was a short one, it was strong and full of passion. This book was written from Madeleine's pov as a journal to her son. It followed their love story from start, to tragic end aboard the Titanic. Before reading this, I had no idea who Jack or Very well written book. I love historical fiction, and learning about people and events in history through the creative tellings of authors. The Second Mrs. Astor follows the love story of John Jacob Astor and Madeleine Force. Although their love and marriage was a short one, it was strong and full of passion. This book was written from Madeleine's pov as a journal to her son. It followed their love story from start, to tragic end aboard the Titanic. Before reading this, I had no idea who Jack or Madeleine Astor were, and even decided to watch the scene from Titanic where they were mentioned. Other characters aboard the ship came into the picture as well, and it brought the story to life. There are many Titanic stories out there, but this one focuses on their love and relationship before the Titanic.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Books.and.Salt

    The Second Mrs. Astor tells the story of Madeline Force - her sordid courtship with a man 29 years her senior and their tragic honeymoon aboard the Titanic. This lyrical novel immerses the reader in early 20th century upper-class culture, giving every elegant detail. The pace of this novel is slow but I really enjoyed being wrapped up in the scenery. It's clear how extensively researched this story was and I couldn't help but search out images and more information on the Astor's once I finished. The Second Mrs. Astor tells the story of Madeline Force - her sordid courtship with a man 29 years her senior and their tragic honeymoon aboard the Titanic. This lyrical novel immerses the reader in early 20th century upper-class culture, giving every elegant detail. The pace of this novel is slow but I really enjoyed being wrapped up in the scenery. It's clear how extensively researched this story was and I couldn't help but search out images and more information on the Astor's once I finished. I much preferred the 3rd person flashbacks to the first person letters. While the letters absolutely gave much needed context (and pulled on the heartstrings) I found myself frustrated that I was being pulled away from the story. I also really wanted more romance between Madeline and the colonel, they were so sweet and I wanted to see more of it! Overall I really loved this book - it's exactly what I expect from the historical fiction genre. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads! Many thanks to Netgalley and Kensington Books for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for my honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rachelle

    The Second Mrs. Astor is one of those books that, as I finished the last pages, I needed to just pause and sit with for a few minutes. I feel like it's rare that historical fiction writers do romance well, but I loved the chemistry between Jack and Madeleine. I even, for the most part, forgot about the 29 year age difference between the two. I was rooting for them, though I knew the tragic ending their story would have. The lavish descriptions made me feel like I was there, whether that was a ov The Second Mrs. Astor is one of those books that, as I finished the last pages, I needed to just pause and sit with for a few minutes. I feel like it's rare that historical fiction writers do romance well, but I loved the chemistry between Jack and Madeleine. I even, for the most part, forgot about the 29 year age difference between the two. I was rooting for them, though I knew the tragic ending their story would have. The lavish descriptions made me feel like I was there, whether that was a overly-gilded mansion, a tent in Egypt, or the deck of the Titanic. Madeleine's struggle to establish herself in a world where everyone looks down on her as a gold-digging teenager felt real, as did her trouble with the press hounding her every move. The star of the show, though, is the Titanic. Even though it's only really in the last third of the book, this is one of my favorite novels to feature that infamous ship. Once Madeleine and Jack boarded, I couldn't stop turning the pages, even though (or maybe because) we all know what's coming. 4.5 stars Thank you to Kensington and Bibliolifestyle for a copy of this book!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kristine

    The Second Mrs Astor by Shana Abe is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early August. Ahh, I hadn’t known that I would be reading this book so soon after finishing Maiden Voyages about female employees aboard oceanliners, such as the Titanic. This, however, is the quite, quite romanticized fainting couch viewpoint of Madeleine as a partway first-person letter to her infant son about his father and partway a third-person history of how they crossed paths, married for love, experienced social tu The Second Mrs Astor by Shana Abe is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early August. Ahh, I hadn’t known that I would be reading this book so soon after finishing Maiden Voyages about female employees aboard oceanliners, such as the Titanic. This, however, is the quite, quite romanticized fainting couch viewpoint of Madeleine as a partway first-person letter to her infant son about his father and partway a third-person history of how they crossed paths, married for love, experienced social turmoil and exclusion, then went for their honeymoon in Egypt, Turkey, and France to come back the US on the Titanic. Much etiquette, luxury, sweet words, and intensive emotional/sensory memories.

  27. 5 out of 5

    smalltownbookmom

    A fascinating (and seemingly romanticized) look at the courtship and short marriage of John Jacob Astor and his very young second wife, Madeline Talmage Force. I really enjoyed this historical fiction book based on the real lives of two of the most notorious elite members of Gilded Age New York City society. The author did a really good job humanizing one of the most wealthy men in the world (how accurate her characterization was is up for debate but I'm not expert enough to critique). In any ca A fascinating (and seemingly romanticized) look at the courtship and short marriage of John Jacob Astor and his very young second wife, Madeline Talmage Force. I really enjoyed this historical fiction book based on the real lives of two of the most notorious elite members of Gilded Age New York City society. The author did a really good job humanizing one of the most wealthy men in the world (how accurate her characterization was is up for debate but I'm not expert enough to critique). In any case I enjoyed getting to know more about both Madeline and Colonel Astor and their fateful voyage on the Titanic (with a cameo by Molly Brown!). Highly recommended for historical fiction fans, especially for those who enjoyed the Titanic movie or Renee Rosen's The social graces. Great on audio narrated by Lauren Ezzo. Much thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my advance review copy.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Linda Gabel

    I do love historical fiction, especially when the writing allows the characters and the events to really come alive. As many reviewers have written, this book is the story of the courtship and short second marriage of JJ Astor, ending tragically with the sinking of the Titanic. The ‘Colonel’ as Jack was called, came off in the writing as rather aloof, excepting his tenderness to the 17/18/year old Madeline. Of course, this marriage was controversial. It probably would be even today. I did not get I do love historical fiction, especially when the writing allows the characters and the events to really come alive. As many reviewers have written, this book is the story of the courtship and short second marriage of JJ Astor, ending tragically with the sinking of the Titanic. The ‘Colonel’ as Jack was called, came off in the writing as rather aloof, excepting his tenderness to the 17/18/year old Madeline. Of course, this marriage was controversial. It probably would be even today. I did not get a very good sense of who Jack really was like as a person. Madeline’s whole life seemed to revolve around him. This is a true fairy princess story. Although well researched and included many details of the actual events, I unfortunately found the writing kept the characters rather distant, the upper, upper class don’t disclose. This is a well-written love story, but I was hoping for a bit more history….. about the main characters both before and after the period covered in this book. Kept hoping the end would tell more about how these events characterized Madeline’s later life. In many ways I found this a tragic love story and not just because of the sinking of the Titanic. In short, I just wanted to know more. I received the book through a Goodreads giveaway. Many thanks to #ShanaAbe, #kensingtonpublishing for the opportunity to read this arc. Opinions are my own.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Roos

    3.5 star Thank you Edelweiss, Rtc

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dive Into A Good Book

    As their eyes locked during her performance of Ophelia, John Jacob Astor and Madeleine Force are destined to one another and their lives are sealed. A courtship that begins with never ending flowers, each with a deeper meaning as their love grows. Madeleine just a girl of seventeen and John Jacob a man of 46. This relationship is made to spark interest and loathing in the eyes of a few. John is the richest man in the world, a divorcé, with two children, and wealth beyond your wildest dreams. The As their eyes locked during her performance of Ophelia, John Jacob Astor and Madeleine Force are destined to one another and their lives are sealed. A courtship that begins with never ending flowers, each with a deeper meaning as their love grows. Madeleine just a girl of seventeen and John Jacob a man of 46. This relationship is made to spark interest and loathing in the eyes of a few. John is the richest man in the world, a divorcé, with two children, and wealth beyond your wildest dreams. The Second Mrs. Astor is a deeply layered love story, that ends too soon in tragedy. In the iceberg riddled sea on the Titanic. I was reminded of Princess Diana with the number of media that were obsessed with her. Is like the insistent badgering that the Astor's experienced during their entire relationship. Especially when they were thirsty to know about their engagement and wedding. The way they changed their life to avoid the press and their insistent need for more. I was saddened by the way in which the upper crust of society treated Madeleine. It is disturbing and very unsettling. The way in which them made her feel less than, a gold digger, a social climber. When really, she was just a very young girl in love with the man of her dreams. To be able to relax and enjoy their new wedded bliss, without the constant hounding and harassment by both the media and certain women of society. The Astor's decide to have their honeymoon in Egypt. Their voyage from America to Europe is what sealed their fate when they meet the Joseph Ismay and he convinces John to book their voyage home on the Titanic. The newest, the best, the unsinkable ship. Of course, John jumps at the idea. Their trip along the Nile is a breath of fresh air to Madeleine. She can relax and take in the wonders of this magical place. The majestic pyramids, the wonderous heat that allows her to feel warmth once again, the fragrant spices, and fascinating people they meet along their way. Leads to a deeper understanding and love between the two of them. You can feel their happiness when Madeleine shares the news that she is pregnant. They are refreshed and ready to take on the lives back in New York. The Titanic is a monstrous beast, that is breathtaking at the same time. Madeleine feels safe within her confines, she can rest, and hideaway from the stares and needling remarks that are directed their way once again. Shana Abe descriptions of the ship make you feel as though you are on board. Drinking in the splendor and magnificence of the Titanic. The way in which Abe brings to life that horrific night, makes your heart sink with pain. The unimaginable sights, sounds, and pure pain the passengers must of felt is agonizing. The Second Mrs. Astor has a richness that makes you crave every word. Abe brings to life this historic couple that were hounded by the press, look down upon by the upper class, and their love tragically torn apart. The book is told by Madeleine in a letter to their son, describing their loving courtship, adventures they took, and the type of the man his father was. Tears will threaten to fall as you are plunged back in time to the vast ocean, their passionate romance, and the love they had for him. I highly recommend this captivating book. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for allowing me to read this riveting tale of one of the most fascinating couples in history.

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