By J. Roslyn
Although World War I raged in Europe starting in 1914, the United States did not declare war on Germany until April 6, 1917. As we enter into the centennial anniversary of America’s involvement in that war, historical novels, such as Radha Vatsal’s excellent, debut novel, A Front Page Affair, provide clear and insightful glimpses into the tension-filled and fearful miasmas that permeated New York City in the years preceding 1917.
Specifically, Ms. Vatsal recreates the 1915, New York City world of Kitty Weeks, a wealthy young woman who has traveled the world with her cosmopolitan father. Although she is considered from the “wrong side of town,” (at least, according to Kitty’s debutante friend), Weeks is a well educated, modern woman.
Constrained by the social mores of the time, Kitty is prohibited from covering news stories, and instead she is forced to write for the Ladies’ Page of one of the many New York City newspapers. Born abroad, raised in Europe and educated in Switzerland, Kitty struggles to find her niche. After stumbling upon a murder while covering her first society event, she finds herself enmeshed in what may be an espionage scandal that has major implications for America’s continued neutrality concerning the war with Germany.
It is very rare to find a debut novel so well written and so engrossing. A Front Page Affair is on a par with the Maisie Dobbs novels of Jacqueline Winspear. More than that, Ms. Vatsal clearly understands the importance of creating an historical novel that transforms 1915 from a dusty, ancient year in America’s past, to a vibrant and dangerous time not unlike our own.
* Print Length: 338 pages
* Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (May 3, 2016)
* Publication Date: May 3, 2016
* Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Rhada Vatsal is the author of two highly rated historical novels set in New York City during the years leading up to America entering World War I: A Front Page Affair and Murder Between the Lines. We have reviewed both books, above.
We asked Ms. Vatsal why she chose the years of World War I as the setting for her Kitty Weeks novels, and she graciously provided us with a guest post, found elsewhere in the News-Press’ Arts & Entertainment section.