City of Light

  • by Lauren Belfer
  • Narrated by Jan Maxwell
  • 6 hrs and 0 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

It is 1901 and Buffalo, New York, stands at the center of the nation's attention as a place of immense wealth and sophistication. The massive hydroelectric power development at nearby Niagara Falls and the grand Pan-American Exposition promise to bring the Great Lakes "city of light" even more repute. Against this rich historical backdrop lives Louisa Barrett, the attractive, articulate headmistress of the Macaulay School for Girls. Protected by its powerful all-male board, "Miss Barrett" is treated as an equal by the men who control the life of the city. Lulled by her unique relationship with these titans of business, Louisa feels secure in her position, until a mysterious death at the power plant triggers a sequence of events that forces her to return to a past she has struggled to conceal, and to question everything and everyone she holds dear. Both observer and participant, Louisa Barrett guides us through the culture and conflicts of a time and place where immigrant factory workers and nature conservationists protest violently against industrialists, where presidents broker politics, where wealthy "Negroes" fight for recognition and equality, and where women struggle to thrive in a system that allows them little freedom.

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What the Critics Say

"...an ingenious first novel." (The New York Times Book Review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Protagonist Is Not Really a Modern Woman

I bought this book because the blurb sounded great, and it started out very well. The details about the beginnings of the electricity business and all the blurred notions of right and wrong that are part of any big money-making enterprise were very interesting. The protagonist is the victim of a crime--which goes unpunished by her or by others who know about it. The other crime that she uncovers in the true mystery of the story she decides to do nothing about. She really disappointed me as a woman; her choices were not those that a modern woman would make, and it ended up helping her not at all. The mystery is great, the history is interesting and chilling, but the protagonist was a disappointment to me.
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- M. Layton

good historical detail

I enjoyed the reader and the story. Tells a tale of gender differences and budding feminism effectively. Also recounts the beginning of electricity for the masses and how that occured.
The more we hear of how men made fortunes on the backs of the poor yet telling the world what they were doing was for our own good, the more it is the same. Very apt with the BP disaster in the Gulf.
Wish the sequel - Radiance of Light was being put into audio.
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- S. Sarabasha "patient heart"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-16-1999
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio