Review: The Gilded Cage by Judy Alter

This book sounded like it was kind of ‘off the beaten path’ as far as setting goes, which was why I decided to read this

It’s rare for me to read a historical fiction novel that’s set in America, and when I do it’s usually an east coast setting so this whole Chicago setting sounded intriguing and I thought I would try it out!

Born to society and a life of privilege, Bertha Honoré married Potter Palmer, a wealthy entrepreneur who called her Cissy. Neither dreamed the direction the other’s life would take.

He built the Palmer House Hotel, still famed today, and became one of the major robber barons of the city, giving generously to causes of which he approved. She put philanthropy into words, going into shanty neighborhoods, inviting factory girls to her home, working at Jane Addams’ settlement Hull House, supporting women’s causes.

It was a time of tremendous change and conflict in Chicago as the city struggled to put its swamp-water beginnings behind it and become a leading urban center. A time of the Great Fire of 1871, the Haymarket Riots, and the triumph of the Columbian Exposition. Potter and Cissy handled these events in diverse ways.

My initial thoughts on this book were, it was full of history……a lot of history.  Now I like history just as much as the next person (I do have my Masters in American history so clearly I love it) but when I am reading books ‘for fun’ and ‘entertainment’ I don’t want that much focus to be on the historical aspects. On one hand it was nice to have such a complete background of the goings on at that time and in that location, but for me it was dense and a little much.

I did walk away feeling like I had a better understanding of the of the social climate of Chicago and I thought Alter did a great job at constructing a character that fit within the social/historical setting that Alter created. Cissy was a very strong heroine for the novel and I thought she worked well within the time period. I wish I had connected with her a little more, I am not sure why but I just didn’t feel as connected to her as I would have liked, but overall I was satisfied with her as the main character and I thought her personality traits were suited for the era so well done with the character sketches.


As a last critique, the cover. I didn’t feel like this cover really did much for me. It was kind of bland and I think could have been designed better. The Ferris wheel has potential but the woman on the front didn’t really draw me to the book. I just think it could have been better.

Over all this is an ok read. I liked it, but I wasn’t in love with it. It as a little too heavy handed on the history for me and while I did like the historical elements I began to lose interest because of the dense historical build up at times. However I have heard rave reviews about the Columbian Exposition piece…..not really my area of interest but for those who are into immigration and how it effected social ranks etc this is a great read! I would recommend this book to people who really really love history and are interested in immigration issues in early turn of the century America than this is would be a good option!

Please check out other stops on the tour for author interviews, giveaways, and guest posts as well as a number of other reviews! The schedule is listed below!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: The Gilded Cage by Judy Alter

  • Kindle Edition, 313 pages
    Published April 18th 2016 by Alter Ego Publishing
    ASIN B01C348KTS
    Review copy provided by: Publisher as part of the HFVBT book tour in exchange for an honest review

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 3 out of 5

Genre: Historic fiction

Memorable lines/quotes: NA

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 23
Excerpt & Giveaway A Holland Reads

Tuesday, May 24
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, May 25
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, May 27
Review at In a Minute

Monday, May 30
Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, May 31
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, June 1
Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Thursday, June 2
Interview at Author Dianne Ascroft’s Blog
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Monday, June 6
Review at Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne

Tuesday, June 7
Guest Post at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, June 8
Spotlight & Giveaway at It’s a Mad Mad World

Thursday, June 9
Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway at The Book Junkie Reads

Monday, June 13
Review at Reading Is My SuperPower
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, June 15
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, June 16
Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, June 17
Review at New Horizon Reviews
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

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