Read City of Light by Lauren Belfer Online


A New York Times bestseller, as well as a New York Times Notable Book, a Library Journal Best Book, and a Main Selection of the Book of the Month Club.The year is 1901. Buffalo, New York, is poised for glory. With its booming industry and newly electrified streets, Buffalo is a model for the century just beginning. Louisa Barrett has made this dazzling city her home. HeadmA New York Times bestseller, as well as a New York Times Notable Book, a Library Journal Best Book, and a Main Selection of the Book of the Month Club.The year is 1901. Buffalo, New York, is poised for glory. With its booming industry and newly electrified streets, Buffalo is a model for the century just beginning. Louisa Barrett has made this dazzling city her home. Headmistress of Buffalo’s most prestigious school, Louisa is at ease in a world of men, protected by the titans of her city. But nothing prepares her for a startling discovery: evidence of a murder tied to the city’s cathedral-like power plant at nearby Niagara Falls. This shocking crime--followed by another mysterious death--will ignite an explosive chain of events. For in this city of seething intrigue and dazzling progress, a battle rages among politicians, power brokers, and industrialists for control of Niagara. And one extraordinary woman in their midst must protect a dark secret that implicates them all… ...

Title : City of Light
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780385337649
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 512 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

City of Light Reviews

  • Cheryl
    2019-05-25 06:53

    This started so well. The distinctive unmarried heroine. Life in the high society of Buffalo. An all-girls school. Electricity, when it first arrived on the scene. Then the fluff took over...

  • Sarah Mac
    2019-05-29 05:45

    Boring. Slow. Depressing. Too long. Too many infodumps. Not even Rapey Grover Cleveland could inject any zip. And let's face it -- if Rapey Grover Cleveland isn't enough to get your story moving, you need to rethink your plot cycle. :PIn short: blatant bookclub fodder that's fully aware of its Literary Aspects, thereby ruining the enjoyment of reading. 2 stars for the occasional pretty turn-of-phrase. The story itself had potential, but it was squandered by the erudite flag-waving.

  • Tim
    2019-06-25 02:48

    Meh. I really wanted to like this, but it was a struggle. First, history isn't so much inter-weaved as it is patched on. It's jarring to just have historical anecdotes thrown in like footnotes that don't know their place. Things like (not an actual example): We went to X park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1897. Ok, interesting, but not exactly a seamless addition to the narrative.My second problem is that the whole thing was way too blunt and transparent. The narrator explains everything, holding the reader's hand throughout the story. Oh, you're doing this to be close to Grace? Right, I remember you mentioning that 10 pages ago and every single time something uncomfortable happens. Thanks for the update!Third, I just didn't care about the characters. There just wasn't enough there to justify a 500 page book. The story could have been told in 200 pages, even with the historical asides. There were just too many words wasted on explaining the narrator's feelings about everything.Still, it had its moments and I did enjoy learning more about Buffalo. I just wish there was a story in here that I cared about.

  • Lorin Cary
    2019-06-13 03:26

    City of LightThis is Lauren Lefler’s first novel, and it’s easy to see why it won so many plaudits. (I’m reading it because I was so impressed by her second novel.) Her protagonist, Louisa Barrett, is the headmistress of a school for girls in Buffalo, NY, in 1901. The city is on the verge of hosting the Pan-American Exposition (during which President McKinley is assassinated) and as the Niagra Falls hydroelectric plant expands the city will become even more prominent. In this dynamic context Louisa delicately balances her role in a society which has strict limits for women. She succeeds and is treated as an equal by the city’s power brokers. Gradually we learn of secrets in her past. And in the final pages we see how various threads of her life resolve.Woven through this tale are several subplots: a struggle between preservationists and “progress” oriented businessmen, a muckraking journalist probing the levers of power, Louisa’s attractions to Tom Sinclair (director of the hydroelectric plant), how wealthy blacks “must” behave in the dominant culture, and mysterious deaths (the chief engineer at the power plant and his replacement) which may or may not be accidental. A key theme is how a core group of wealthy individuals manipulate economic and social developments in the city.Lefler crafts her characters with great care, as they are seen through the eyes of Louisa, whether it is Tom Sinclair, the pretentious nouveau rich, the men of standing, or the minor characters. In many ways, the city of Buffalo is also a character. Lefler’s novel shows how the strategically sited city was once a powerhouse destined for greatness. At a time when Detroit (a former powerhouse itself) has just declared bankruptcy, it is a poignant reminder of how changing technologies and population movements, among other things, alter the destiny of a city and its inhabitants.

  • Joanne Moyer
    2019-05-27 02:41

    Buffalo NY in 1901 is one of the most important cities in the US, if not the world. With it's numerous ports it is a gateway for shipping to the world. It's industry and electrified streets have made it a model city for the new century and many important people have made it their home.The city is finishing plans to open the much anticipated Pan-American Exposition at which a newhydroelectric power plant will be opened. The plant is causing much unrest in the city between power brokers supporting it and the conservationists who believe it is taking too much water from Niagra Falls. When one murder and then another mysterious death implicate any number of people involved with both the plant and the conservationists, they begin to worry not only about danger to the plant but to themselves and the secrets they are hiding.Laura Barrett is Headmistress of Buffalo's most influential school and has many options open to her that most women of her time do not. She has remained in Buffalo because of secrets of her own, but she has no idea how many others know of them and how deeply it involves her in everything that is going on around herThough overall I enjoyed this book in the end something just never completely clicked for me. The history was interesting -- Buffalo NY Supercity- who knew?? -- but it remains a 3.5 star read

  • Sarah
    2019-06-09 02:41

    I've read well over half of this, so feel a little silly not finishing it off. I'm somewhat less than enchanted, though, so I'm going to be a quitter. The reviews on this were really good, but I had some problems with it. The dialog felt flat to me, and the main character felt as vague, fuzzy and uninteresting as the figure on the cover. And then there's the whole Grover-Cleveland-raped-me plotline. Now, I love when real people make appearances in fiction, and I'm not one to whine about the inaccuracies that are inevitable therein. I'm not reading a history text, it's fiction. I get it. HOWEVER. To make an ex-president--even one who did have some...ahem...personal issues--into a freaking RAPIST seems a little out of line to me.The book this reminds me most of is Caleb Carr's "The Alienist." But while it does have some of the qualities that made that a great read (panoramic view of society, a well-developed period setting, an interesting mix of genres) it lacked--for me at least--that intense, gripping quality that Carr's book had. There's something that just feels tepid about this book to me, so I'm moving along.

  • Karen
    2019-06-17 01:27

    Really liked this book: a good story, compelling. Takes place in late 1890s to early 1900s, in Buffalo, NY. The backdrop is the Pan-American Exibition and city fathers/businessmen are readying the city, as this event will draw thousands, including politicians, and getting your city noticted never hurts. But that is just the backdrop (and, no it is not a murder story as in Devil in the White City, also featuring a world's fair, and the wonder of electricity). Louisa Barrett is the headmistress of a girls' school, and as such she is part of the inner circle of Buffalo, unlike most women in town,who are married and whose primary role is wife/helpmeet. However, Louisa is still a woman, and knows she needs to keep to a certain, limited role. Louisa has a secret. All of her actions are driven by it, and thus the story moves. It is always fascinating to me to read an author's first novel, and to see how well she portrays the attitudes of the time, the status of things, social, scientific, etc.

  • Angela
    2019-06-05 06:26

    I love this book for two reasons; it takes place where I grew up in Buffalo, NY, and because I have a particular interest in this era. The detail and historical references of the city of Buffalo take me to the time when our city was bustling with richness and possibilities while preparing for the Pan-American Exhibition. I had to take a drive through it with a new vision and appreciation for buildings that we have seen thousands of times. I have lived here my entire life and never knew the history behind the architecture and many of our well known buildings, such as the Richardson Complex. The explicit detail in what people believed and how they managed to figure out a way to extract electricity for the very first time from the thundering water of Niagara Falls was fascinating!

  • Elyse Hayes
    2019-06-24 05:51

    Loved this historical novel set in Buffalo at the turn of the 20th century. The author mentions real places, real buildings, etc. and weaves local history into a mystery. At the time there was a lot of wealth in the city, it was still a major port, the power plant was new, beautiful buildings were being built, they hosted the 1901 PanAmerican Exhibition, and during that, President McKinley was shot. Fascinating. Story really kept my interest all the way through. Written from the viewpoint of the a woman who is the headmistress of a girls' private school in the city (the real school, the Buffalo Seminary, still exists). Not great literature, but skillful, and simply a "good read."

  • Justine Janora
    2019-06-07 05:38

    As a Buffalonian born in the late 1960's I loved this book. It made me feel like I was part of a thriving city on the verge of something greater. Unfortunately as most current Buffalonians know, the city hasn't yet hit those days of grandour again. But the book was very well written and the research took me on a quest. I found myself in the Ellicott Sqaure building, in front of the elevators looking at the swastikas embedded in the tiled floor. I had walked those floors many times but never noticed them until I read about it in this book. The research Lauren did in the book was awesome!I loved the book especially as a Buffalonian- I felt is was one of the greatest Buffalo Historical Fiction novels I have ever read. I bought several copies and sent them to friends and family members who have since moved away and they too loved how it took them back to days when things were looking bright for Buffalo.

  • Catherine
    2019-06-16 02:28

    I was loving this historical fiction novel at first - I felt it made Buffalo NY at the turn of the century - when it was known as "The City of Light" come alive and the author was sensitive to roles of race and gender at the timeframe (instead of glossing over that). The main character is independent and likable and I was learning history at the same time.Unfortunately, and maybe this was her trying to be true to the realities of an independent woman during that time frame, the story takes an incredulous turn into the protagoinist's past and the novel goes dark from that point on. So I have fond memories of the beginning, but a bitter aftertaste associated with the last third of an otherwise lovely book.

  • Gerry
    2019-06-12 04:47

    One of the only books I’ve read with a historical basis in American history outside of wartime, this novel opened a window to a realm of our history I had no knowledge of, and did it with such clarity and such empathetic characterization, it must be rated A+. Belfer’s portrait of the male community leaders and the incredible power they wielded over even highly independent women was most enlightening, though I suspect that’s one aspect of society that has changed less than I might imagine, at least in those upper reaches where real power exists.

  • Shelly Sweeney
    2019-06-17 00:37

    I simply LOVED this book! I am a Buffalo girl and it was really fun to be able to find the house I was living in on the book jacket. I learned a lot about Buffalo history in a very interesting book! I loved how the author wove the fictional story completely into a real setting with real historical facts. I really felt the characters and the story unfolding! I also enjoyed reading about the amazing architecture, as well as the building of the first power plant! Excellent job! Would recommend to anyone, especially a Buffalonian!

  • Swanbender2001
    2019-06-21 00:56

    This is a well written historical fiction set in the late 1800's, early 1900s. The power station at Niagara Falls is being constructed and at the same time the Pan-American Exposition is occuring. President McKinley is assassinated towards the end of the book. The 'City of Light' is Buffalo where electricity is being brought into the buildings and homes to replace gas lamps and release the city of the pall of darkness the gas clouds leave hanging over it. Automobiles are a rare occurence but will be replacing the horse drawn carriage soon.Loiusa Barrett is headmistress of Buffalo's most prestigious school, the Macaulay School for girls. She grew up with a father who was a geologist and took his daughter on his field trips, so she was accustomed to communicating as an equal with all sorts of individuals, of every class and rank and gender. She brought an attitude and foresight of women's ability to do anything and accomplish more than parlor games with her to the position she held. Her goal for her girls was to teach them to advance beyond the strictures of the time and not allow those strictures to hold their dreams in check. She expanded the curriculum to include the necessary courses to give them a well-rounded view of the world from the confines of a safe girls' school and was successful as the graduates went on to become doctors and involved in other helping professions.Her life revolved around a secret she had no idea was so well known. She had met President Cleveland in total innocence, bore a child as a result of his lecherous assignation. She was unaware that the men in power of Buffalo had earmarked her as the girl they wanted the President to dally with and when she was in need of a secret confinement, helped 'look the other way' for her so she could secretly orchestrate it. For ten years she played the role of godmother to the child she bore, both adoptive parents unaware of her true involvement in the life of the child she brought to them. The father was the developer and builder of the Niagara Falls power station and as his dreams grew to encompass the idea of creating electricity for the people, his investors who were the men in power of Buffalo, started plotting against him and using Louisa and her secret. The events that unfold are heartbreaking, yet satisfying.

  • Booknblues
    2019-05-27 03:39

    Lauren Belfer immerses the reader in the turn of the century city of Buffalo. It is an exciting time where change and industrialization is worshiped. It is a time for women as well as men. Their position in society is changing. they are becoming increasingly educated and able to impact through social change. It is a time to come to America and walk the streets of gold. Immigrants from eastern Europe flock to this country and cause upheavals of their own. It is the time for the worker. Industries are targeted by labor unions and strikes are common.In Buffalo it is a great time to make a buck. The power plant at nearby Niagara Falls is being built. Opportunities abound for new business and industry. Buffalo displays all the strife that accompanied the social change of the Progressive era. Lauren Belfer has done a tremendous amount of research about the time and place. She is able to bring this society to life in her book and takes a close look at the movers and shakers of the time. Caught in the middle of it all and desperately trying to make her way and not upset the apple cart is the narrator and heroine, headmistress Louisa Barrett. Louisa Barrett wants to do the right thing and feels strongly that she is helping to shape a generation of young women into the profound thinkers of the future. In reality Louisa is frozen with fear of the effect of action. In many ways she is a puppet on a string.The story is part mystery, part romance, part psychological study and part historical time piece. In it written with tons of detail about the time and place. If the reader appreciates this most likely this is a book for you. If other elements are more appealing the book may be found wanting.

  • Sonja Livingston
    2019-06-24 01:46

    I applaud anyone who wants to bring the rich history of western New York to the world through writing or art. The novel includes much information and research and provides a good "feel" for Buffalo at the turn of the century and what was at stake for the landscape and the people. That said, the main character was inconsistent and unbelievable, and the plot veered over the falls about a third of the way through. I enjoyed several of the strands of story, and was hooked enough to find out what happens (a good thing!) but I refused to be weighed down by the overly wrought story and for the final third of the novel, became a 7th grader reading the first lines of every other paragraph. Just pruning this novel would have made it stronger.

  • Melanie
    2019-06-12 23:50

    The main character and her story line are fiction, but the places, events and people are actually based on historical occurances that happened in Buffalo, NY, which is my home town.Set in the Pan-Am era (early 1900s), Buffalo was once one of the country's richest cities, due to the Erie Canal and Niagara Falls. It was interesting reading about familiar places, buildings and streets, which are all a part of the Queen City's fascinating history. I would love to have been able to see Buffalo in it's prime glory, but if you take a ride down Delaware Avenue and the surrounding area today, you can still see the grand mansions that the city's wealthiest and most famous once lived in.This book starts out a little slow, but has a good twist toward the end. This was a very enjoyable read.

  • Steve Griffin
    2019-06-16 23:36

    A complex historical thriller set at the turn of the twentieth century, when the first power stations were being established at Niagara Falls. It was a time of great hope (with promises to roll back the darkness and let poor children read by electric light) and great conflict, between unionists, black people, and nature 'preservationists' against the powerful new industrialists. It's all told from the perspective of the spinster head teacher of the local girl's school, who bears a major secret of her own that commits her to engaging with the dark and dramatic events. Recommended.

  • Luke Friedman
    2019-05-26 04:52

    Lauren Belfer's City of Light discusses Buffalo, NY at the turn of the last century. In this novel, Belfer explores Buffalo through the eyes of Louisa Barret. Ms. Barrett is the headmistress of the Macaulay school. This book has a touch of mystery and history. I would recommend it anyone who likes a good novel and enjoys reading about the history of Buffalo and the time of the Pan-American Exposition.

  • Ron
    2019-06-24 05:42

    Maybe 3.5. A thoroughly researched and densely plotted novel centering on 1906 Buffalo, New York. Well done, if a bit heavy on the exposition. It seems that no fact about Buffalo was too trivial to include. As I am not the target audience for this book, I didn't connect with the protagonist as Belfer's intended readers probably did.

  • Carly
    2019-06-21 04:28

    I don’t frequently get to describe historical fiction as intersectional feminist, but Lauren Belfer’s City of Light falls into that heading. And it’s also loads of fun. Belfer mixes prose styles from Daphne Du Maurier and Margaret Atwood, with the drama of a Soap Opera, and the heart and tragedy of Little Women. Worth a read if you can handle all that.

  • ER
    2019-06-20 23:41

    Good mix of fact and fiction. If you are from Buffalo, NY, you will enjoy this tale of the early years of the 1900's.

  • Kirsten
    2019-05-25 22:26

    Although this book is just shy of 500 pages, I read it in 3 days, and I also managed to grade stack of essays and read part of another book. I also made myself slow down to enjoy all the description and really try to soak in some of the history. I have always enjoyed historical fiction, but rarely do I pay much attention to the details of the place since I don't really KNOW the place personally. However, City of Light takes place at the turn of the last century when Buffalo hosted the Pan-American exhibition. The streets and places the characters go are places I know now, and many of them still bear the unmistakable brand of the era they were built in. This is historical fiction at its best when you realize truly the research that went into the book and the accuracy of many of the details and even some of the people. The behavior of many of the tycoons of that era seem in someway so believable to me. I can just imagine the behavior of Grover Cleveland just as described. I can imagine that Albright was as eccentric as depicted, and that Rumsey was the benevolent and arrogant father-figure. Now what I have figure out is if the Love estate is still there in part. I know the Albright mansion was torn down, but what of the Rumsey estate or the Love estate? Now I have a new "search" to add the next time I'm on Delaware Avenue. The character of Louisa Barrett is one of the more three-dimensional characters in the book, and she is a very believable narrator. She tells the story about 10 years after the final events in the story take place, 10 years after the McKinley assassination. You never really know what is going to happen -- the suspense is kept, the surprises (with one exception) are not really foreshadowed, and even the more predictable surprise doesn't seem predictable until you look back a bit. Louisa seems sometimes wound a little too tight, but when I think about the times and the fact that she was in society without being married...well, then I think I understand the reason: survival.One of the things that I think makes the book also a "pleasure" besides the story line and the narrator is the way I actually could get just as furious as she did at the arrogance of some of these tycoons. I could see the slums and the charity hospitals and compare them to the opulence of the rich, and I got angry. I understood why the unionists were striking for better wages and especially the better safety and working conditions. I am appalled at the expendability of working class men.I got mad about the racism too! Mary Talbert was a real person, and having visited 1st Michigan Baptist Church just 6 months ago, I already know quite a bit about her -- a black woman fighting for justice in a very racist country. I loved the relationship that developed between Louisa and Mary, the true rockiness of it, and yet the gradual understanding the two had.I could go on, but I want to save some for the book club discussion on this, and anything else would include spoilers.

  • Meghan
    2019-06-13 05:26

    Some day I know Goodread will allow me to use a half-star but until then I will give City of Light a 3 rating.I liked the book but I think what I liked about the book was the opportunity to read about Buffalo. Both of my parents are from Buffalo and we would spend every summer visiting my grandparents. I remember visiting one set of grandparents in Kaiser town where everyone spoke Polish. My maternal grandparents lived closer to the Elmwood Ave area. I can remember seeing all the grand houses, walking to the zoo, and going to the Albright. Of course now that we rarely if ever travel to Buffalo, I wish I would have learned more about the City and more about my grandparents experiences when they grew up in there. Of course all of this has nothing to do with the actual book.I enjoyed the read. For the most part, the book kept me reading and I was still guessing as to the who and what until the end. I think the story unfolded well, although it did drag in a few parts for me, and even when she talks to Rumsey at the end, I didn't feel that the author used that moment to suddenly wrap things up as some books tend to do to ensure a clean ending. I think Belfer did a great job mixing historical and fictional characters. I loved learning the history of Buffalo including such things as Olmsted's designs (especially after reading about him in Devil in the White Ciy). I admit to being disappointed with her decision about Fiske (I know my inner feminist is yelling at me). So yes, a 3 star that maybe should be a 4.

  • Adrienne Snape
    2019-05-26 06:45

    If I had to chose one word to describe "City of Light" I would use "dissapointing." As someone who lives in Buffalo, NY I've heard quite a bit of fuss amde about this book over the years. Despite my intrests in Buffalo, history and period stories this book and I just did not mesh properly. For a mystery novel the mystery was very drawn out and dull, also a little too easy to predict. The big reveal didn't come soon enough towards the end and then the actual ending of the novel seemed awkward, forced and melodramatic.I have no issue with historical detail used in historical fiction, however, the history is not seamlessly intertwined into the narrative as it seems meely patched on towards the end. Every few pages into the story the reader has to take a break from the actual plot to read several paragraphs about the histoy of the peson, place, thing described breifly in the previous paragraph. For example, the descriptions of the familiy's personal history's and overexplnation of minor chcracters just seemed to add unecessary weight to the novel that easily could have been edited out and made the story more fluid. Part of me is wondering whether the fact that this is local history to me makes me biased and unintrested. I'm wondering if the fact that these names and locales are familiar to me served as more distracting than anything, and maybe I am just exagerrating this issue with the writing.

  • LuAnn
    2019-06-04 04:45

    Much political and economic intrigue among the kingpins of turn-of-the-century Buffalo society centering around a single headmistress with a secret and the family she is closest to. I was drawn in and had to know what happened, so I read it in three days! The attitudes of those in power presented in this will jar many of us, though sadly are also reflected in our world to this day. Fascinating look at Buffalo and turn-of-the-century history involving societal values, civil rights movements, historic buildings, power generation at Niagara Falls and the Pan-American Exhibition. I felt Louisa, the protagonist's, behavior toward the girl Grace as presented in the beginning didn't gel with her later attitude and behavior. Some of the historical facts are jarringly thrown in though most are skillfully woven in. Otherwise the writing is smooth and descriptive. Since it's told from the perspective of the headmistress who is very careful of her position, all the conversations involved much calculation--tiring how much effort she put into figuring out what to do and say. Not a perfect book, but an intriguing, emotional read that didn't end the way I wanted it to though ended in a way that fit the whole.

  • Jessica
    2019-06-03 05:36

    Cover blurbs are too intense- I did not think the mystery was particularly gripping. The book is full of Louisa explaining the etiquette and subtext of upper class society at the turn of the century, which is really helpful for understanding, but can get to be a little much. Also, since I (kind of) know Buffalo, I spent half the book just trying to orient myself in the city as Louisa wandered around making house calls. I did enjoy learning about the electrical development and the Pan- Am exposition, both things I did not know much about.My real problem with the book was that I did not find it particularly suspenseful or gripping. Basically, Louisa came off as kind of nuts. All that explaining and examining and constantly keeping everyone at arms length to hide her secret- I kept thinking "this woman must be exhausted!" Never being able to get anything off her mind or unburden herself to anyone- no wonder she is suspicious of every single interaction she has with another person.

  • Jean
    2019-06-22 02:52

    I had read this author's other book ( A Fierce Radiance) and really liked it so I was motivated to read this one. She does a good job of presenting factual issues in a fictional setting. This book takes place in Buffalo, NY and is about the mass production of electricity at the turn of the century. Since I spend time near there every summer at Chautauqua, NY, I was most interested in reading it. Surprisingly, I almost gave up. It took a while for the story to capture my interest. Once it did however, I can say it was very readable; both informative and surprising. There is mystery, unrequited love, Victorian morality, politics, unwed mothers, race, murder, you name it! Overall, I quite liked it and would recommend it. I always read the acknowledgments and noted that it took her 6 years to write it. I am sure she puts an enormous amount of research into whatever topic she undertakes to write about. It does make you want to visit Buffalo, it was one remarkable city in its day!

  • Gloria
    2019-06-02 06:30

    I enjoyed this book very much. The city is Buffalo and the history is not that we'll known to thos of us not from around Buffalo. I knew a president was assisted here and where, but I did not know about the history of electricity at Niagara Falls. It was a good story and gave good background in the history of the early 1900's in that place. Just the picture of traveling in winter on a sleigh with sleigh bells amidst the snow made me think about how much nicer some things were in the past than the cars and traffic jams of the present. Times change and it is nice to read about life in a different time and place. The story held my interest as well. It is 500 pages but took just days to read. I gave it 5 stars for it is not another cookie cutter story that I see so much lately. It isn't great literature perhaps, but a nice combination of mystery with some romance in a historic setting.

  • Mandy
    2019-05-30 22:32

    I was disappointed with this book. Because of the excellent writing and intriguing setting, I was instantly hooked. However, as the book went on I felt as if the author had researched every bad thing that happened in Buffalo from 1900-1909 and decided to exploit them. I am all for enlightening readers to the downfalls of government, society, or business, but there should be more to the book than that. I kept waiting for something likable to happen and it never did. The lead character Louisa, was supposed to be portrayed as strong, but I thought she was weak. She had opportunity after opportunity to do something smart and instead she worried about her reputation or the reputations of others. Which made her no better than the people that were the villains. The only thing that kept me going was the mystery unfolding, even then I was disappointed. This is definitely a book I would call a Debbie Downer.