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Fortune Hunter: A Novel of New York Society

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By: (1819-1870)

Fortune Hunter provides a compelling glimpse into the inner workings of New York society in the mid-19th century, told through the captivating story of a young woman navigating the challenges of love, ambition, and societal expectations. The protagonist, Fanny Wilson, is a complex and relatable character whose struggles and triumphs resonate with readers.

Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie's writing is elegant and engaging, bringing the glamour and intrigue of high society to life with vivid detail and sharp wit. The novel is filled with vivid descriptions of New York City in the 1840s, allowing readers to immerse themselves in a world of lavish balls, scandalous gossip, and high-stakes social maneuvering.

While the story may at times feel melodramatic or predictable, it is ultimately a satisfying and entertaining read that offers a thought-provoking exploration of the tensions between ambition and authenticity, love and duty. Fortune Hunter is a delightful blend of romance, drama, and social commentary that will appeal to fans of historical fiction and classic literature.

Book Description:
Mowatt wrote The Fortune Hunter to be submitted to a contest held by the New World newspaper. Contest rules dictated that the title of the work, that the setting had to be New York, and that the text had to be completed within six months. So, recycling a few characters from short stories written under the pen name “Helen Berkeley,” Mowatt quickly created a tale that started with two fashionable fellows in search of wealthy wives -- Brainard and Ellery. They, in turn, are pursued by the inexorable debt collector, Mr. Badger. Then the reader is introduced to the objects of the bachelors’ chase, the Clinton sisters. The elder sister, Rachel, has become so disgusted with this cynical game of fortune hunting that she has decided to renounce her claim to her portion of her father’s fortune to escape the mendacity of suitors like Brainard and Ellery. Ester, the melodramatic, Byron-quoting, younger sister is perfectly happy to play the game, as long as it is by the rules she sets. Love is no game to Miss Arria Walton, the penniless orphan ward of the Clinton’s father and best friend of the sisters, who is desperately in love with young Dr. Edgar Chadwick. Rapid twists and turns of fate and sudden reversals of fortune characterize the plot of this comic melodrama that is part Jane Austen, part Charles Dickens, but establishes a delightful Victorian Americana flavoring all of its own. - Summary by Kelly S. Taylor


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