Linda's Reviews > Glamorous Illusions

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa Tawn Bergren
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's review
Jun 18, 12

it was amazing
Read in June, 2012

Cora Diehl has only known Alan and Alma Diehl as her parents, at least until the summer of 1913. It was an extremely dry summer, with questionable hope of keeping their farm in Montana up and running. When her dad suffers two strokes, Cora’s life changes abruptly. Her life dramatically changes even more when a stranger comes to their farm and Cora discovers that her dad isn’t her real father. This stranger, Mr. Wallace Kensington, is her real father. Her mother’s secret has been unfolded.

Cora Kensington is escorted off with her father while her parents head to Minneapolis for additional treatment for her dad. As she comes to terms with her parentage, she finds herself invited to take a “Grand Tour” of Europe with her two half-sisters, one half-brother, and the three Morgan siblings. She’s fitted for glamorous new gowns and introduced to her siblings and their friends a week before touring Europe, along with their two guides–an uncle and his nephew, William. The Tour is ‘intended to finish a person’s education and solidify an understanding of refinement and ancient culture.’

Lisa skillfully and intimately describes the initial animosity between Cora and her siblings, along with their close friends, the Morgans. Her feelings of loneliness and isolation resonate within you. As they make their way to Europe aboard ship, the animosity remains kindled, though small instances seem to break down the walls when they weather a horrific storm just one year after the sinking of the Titanic. Your hopes rise right along with those of Cora’s and get dashed just as quickly.

Insight into the world of the wealthy and elite are richly elaborated through the eyes of Cora–the beauty of the countryside, the elegant mansions, the elaborate decor, and the refined living of the wealthy friends of Mr. Kensington. However, though wealthy and refined, we find these very human hosts reacting negatively to Cora’s lineage.

This is when the adventures really start to take place. Lisa engages you in the new festivity of plans in England all the way to the grandeur city of Paris. The ‘ideal’ of refinement and ancient culture had begun! There’s love and romance stirring in the air for Cora, with not just one romantic encounter, but two, leaving her sisters in a jealous fit. So apropos for family sibling rivalry!

The dual points of view of Cora and William set the stage for this whole “Grand Tour” rendezvous. Having familiarized myself with the code of dress for the times through Pinterest, I found reading Lisa’s book so vivid and exciting. I felt as though I was seeing and experiencing things right along with Cora–the gowns, the dancing, the ballroom, the romance. I even found myself questioning whether I fit would fit in after living on a quiet ranch in Wyoming.

From rags to riches, Cora tries to find her place in this new world of wealth and beauty. Just who is she amidst all this glamor? Does she really belong in this lifestyle? Will she find a place within the Kensington family? What is she really like?

This is a fabulous read for historical value as well as the excitement of the times! The cover says it all! I just hate to think I have to wait for the next books in the series!

This book was provided by Amy Lathrop and Christen Krumm of Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was exchanged.

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