In 1920s New York, The Price Of A Woman S Independence Can Be Exorbitant Even Fatal In 1924 Manhattan, Women S Suffrage Is Old News For Sophisticated Booklover Julia Kydd, Life S Too Short For Politics With Her Cropped Hair And Penchant For Independent Living, Julia Wants Only To Launch Her Own New Private Press But As A Woman, Julia Must Fight For What S Hers Including The Inheritance Her Estranged Half Brother, Philip, Has Challenged, Putting Her Aspirations In Jeopardy.When Her Friend S Sister, Naomi Rankin, Dies Suddenly Of An Apparent Suicide, Julia Is Shocked At The Wealthy Family S Indifference Toward The Ardent Suffragist S Death Naomi Chose Poverty And Hardship Over A Submissive Marriage And A Husband S Control Of Her Money Now, Her Death Suggests The Struggle Was Than She Could Bear.Julia, However, Is Skeptical Doubtful Of Her Suspicions, Philip Proposes A Glib Wager If Julia Can Prove Naomi Was In Fact Murdered, He Ll Drop His Claims To Her Wealth Julia Soon Discovers Naomi S Life Was As Turbulent And Enigmatic As Her Death And As She Gets Closer To The Truth, Julia Sees There S Much At Stake Than Her Inheritance Author Marlowe Benn book, Relative Fortunes, is a breath of fresh air amid the countless books that hit the market on a daily basis While I hesitated, deliberating between this and a few other Kindle First books, I eventually chose this as my second choice of the month Happily, it is the better of the two reads.Ms Benn displays a wonderful talent for stringing the right words together, and the novel is an endless stream of descriptive passages Add to that the distinct characters that walk throughout the pages and you have something special The book is listed in both the Historical Fiction and Mystery rankings, both apt descriptions of the story The author s writing style easily place it in the historical fiction category This is not merely a tale placed at a certain time in history There are many references to the time period of the book early 1920s , and through the expressive prose, one can easily imagine standing side by side with heroine Julia Kydd The overall plot reflects the era, when men made most of the decisions and women had to struggle to achieve any respect outside the home Julia s brother has posed a challenge that she is not able to refuse, as it offers the only possibility for her to gain control of money that is rightfully hers Ms Benn weaves an intriguing account of Julia s efforts Based upon the talent displayed, in the future I will not hesitate when I see another of the author s books Five stars. I gave this three stars because for about the first half of the book I thought this book would never get going and almost stopped reading it But eventually I got caught up in the story I ll probably read future books of the series now that the probable recurring characters have been established. This started slow but ended strong Full RTC 3.5 stars In Relative Fortunes, we meet Julia Kydd, a woman who is just shy of 25 but wise beyond her years Julia encounters an acquaintance named Glennis who discovers her progressive sister has died..supposedly under some rather mysterious circumstances Despite Julia s hesitation, she soon becomes engrossed in a very complicated plot The book was very historically accurate it was centered around the early 1920 s when women had yet to vote I felt as though the book was a bit plodding at times but overall, it was definitely well written The book seems to be gearing up for a series, and I think mystery fans will enjoy this character. Set in Manhattan in a time of suffragists and prohibition, bootleggers and soap box orators, Julia Kydd, a bibliophile and modern woman, finds herself in a situation that requires her to solve the mystery concerning the suspicious death of her friend s sister As she delves into Naomi s life and death, she sees parallels between her situation in which her estranged brother controls her fortune, and Naomi s, whose brother forced her into dire circumstances by controlling her inheritance I loved that the author never preached about the issues and lets the readers draw their own conclusions while providing a clear view of the issues of the time Women have been tortured and suffered in order to get the vote A new type of modern woman is envisioned, a woman with independence and free will in all areas of her life This type of woman is still held back by the norms of the day a brother or father or uncle is required for them to set up a bank account, and it s the norm for the males to control the purse strings Sexual independence is almost unfathomable It s still the case that a woman must marry to secure her fortune The reader is dropped into this tumultuous time of great social change There is a lot of food for thought At the end, I realized that although so much was done to secure our right to vote, women s rights still have a long way to go to be considered equal We still do not have equal rights enshrined in the Constitution, we still earn less than men for the same work In the end, this novel reinforced my own commitment to securing those rights for all.Beyond that, the novel moves along at a good pace with a good puzzle to be solved I loved it and didn t want it to end. I could not put this book down Especially at the end The characters were wonderful and even though I totally thought I knew what had happened, there were twists that I totally did not see coming I cannot wait to see what Julia gets into next Relative Fortunes was my First Reads pick for July, and overall I enjoyed it The story line itself started out pretty slowly, but the intrigue and the mystery picked up significantly in the second half and I finished that bit off in a single evening There were definitely some twists and turns that kept me guessing until the very end.I think the interesting aspect of the book was actually the historical context and social backdrop I learned a lot about women s rights in 1924 and some of the political events surrounding the equal right movement at the time I knocked off a couple of stars though because I still thought the book was a bit dry, and pacing of the story line was a bit off I also never really felt connected to the protagonist, or any of the characters for that matter They felt just a bit unbelievable. Very much a story of two halves this one One half was engrossing and atmospheric and the other was disjointed and felt very thrown together and almost bolted on to the tale First off, the good bit Julia s life has been rather charmed, admittedly she has lost both her father and her mother but she has enough wealth to live her own life and is even dabbling in her own printing imprint Capriole is very much a dabble at this point in time, no matter what Julia seems to think As her 25th Birthday approaches she has to return to the States as her half brother is disputing that she is entitled to the money left her under her father s will and she desperately needs to salvage her route to independence Julia is fiercely independant but doesn t really see herself as that, she just sees herself as a modern woman living life on her terms This is related so matter of factly that it does feel natural and sets the character well on the page.The backdrop for the story is Prohibition New York, but it is in the world of privilege so there is plenty of alcohol flowing Again, this is seen as being part of the natural order of things if you have wealth you can have whatever you want and the law can be safely ignored Private clubs and homes serve liquor with impunity and nary a whiff of the police raiding them It is also very noticeable that the lives of wealthy women seem to just centre around which party or club they can visit that night and days are spent or less idle The descriptions of the locales and the clothing are brief but really place the reader in the setting.Julia herself is feisty and sarcastic She is clearly an intelligent woman and this does come across well on the page and her aversion to be shackled to a man as she sees marriage seems perfectly natural I liked that although she sees the need for Equality For Women she is not politically active or motivated to be so, makes a nice change for female protagonists in books set in this era As she spends time with the Rankins and the Winterjays she does become politically aware but still seems pretty laissez faire about it all, preferring to concentrate on saving her fortune by any means necessary.The rest of the cast, and this is a large cast, are okay Most of them are pretty much two dimensional shades of a particular type Glennis is the flighty, society girl happy enough to shock but all she wants is a husband Phillip is a playboy type, only really interested in accumulating and creating art with a nice line in dissolution on the side We never really get to know too much about the others, even Jack, Alice and the ill fated Naomi.The bad bit is really the mystery of Naomi s death It just feels uncomfortable on the page and by Glennis convincing Julia that something is wrong with the circumstances the resulting investigation and suppositions really don t fit with the rest of the fictional world It honestly felt bolted in to the story to add a bit of excitement, when there were so many ways this could have been added should the author desire without making the story feel like two separate stories Honestly, for me it was clunky and just didn t work. Julia s a couple weeks away from turning twenty five She s been living in England for the past five years and has a married boyfriend, David, there We didn t get much background on her The info we got on her ex boyfriend was pointless and did nothing for the story I m not sure what to make of her She was likely motivated to investigate the death of Naomi so she could get her inheritance so than to find out the truth.I like her old school acquaintance, Glennis Rankin She s the opposite of Julia in personality I ve read reviewers calling Julia feisty but she s not at all Glennis is They weren t really friends in school and only knew each other for a year and are the same age Glennis is the youngest sister of dead woman, Naomi, who s forty years old.There was some unnecessary stuff regarding her stepbrother, Philip, and his mother at the very end that was also pointless Enough was already going on so there just was no reason to add that.I don t think there was a physical description, hair color, eye color, of anyone at all, other than her friend Glennis having wide spaced eyes and not getting the looks in the family.It seems to me that author wanted Julia to be British so she should have made her be from there Julia uses the nonAmerican term cheeky and says round instead of around , and uses the European form of writing the date, like 24 7 2019 instead of the American way, 7 24 2019.This story held my attention from the start and there was never a dull moment The story spans a few weeks, possibly as much a month A little too much went on at the end, revelations regarding Naomi s death, and was slightly hard to follow, due to too many characters I m not entirely happy with how it played out.The book has a pattern printed onto it, which you can view here.I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This was a slow, slow, slow burn of a novel I liked Julia, she was a fun, independent, modern 192o s woman Yet, for being modern she was woefully ignorant to the women s rights movement that was happening all around her, in England and America This was slightly unbelievable to me If your character is championing her own free will, her disinterest in getting married, and her enthusiasm for starting her own company, you would think she would know how the political climate was changing because of women like her, fighting for women to have that free agency I don t know, it just didn t fit the rest of the character s persona for her to be ignorant of such a large issue that effects her so prominently It honestly felt like it took FOREVER to get to the juice of this novel The description says something like Julia places a bet with her brother that she can prove her friend s sister, a Suffragette, death was murder in order to win back her inheritance Cool Except, you are 36% of the way through the novel before the bet is even mentioned Then, there is a moment when you re supposed to think it won t even be necessary Then, Julia needs to win the bet to win her inheritance to live this modern life she wants to lead and becomes obsessed with solving the murder death suicide I get that we need a reason for Julia to become interested and invested in solving this crime, but it feels like it s for very selfish reasons Her friend believes her sister was murdered because her family is awful, so she is eagerly helping Julia But Julia never tells her friends she s ONLY helping her because she wants to win her inheritance back Then, she tells her brother with whom the bet is placed and his best friend all the private details of this family and the murder death suicide after explicitly telling the family she wouldn t tell anyone what she s discovered But she has to in order to win the bet The mystery was okay I thought it was fairly easy to figure out who the ultimate culprit was, but there were a lot of characters that played a very large and crucial role to the mystery, and some of those twists and turns were interesting The one thing I hated was how cliche the reveal was They were all sat in a room after being tricked there and Julia started interrogating people and then they just all spilled their guts C mon It s such a boring murder mystery trope that was tiring to find in this novel There are interesting ways to reveal the player s parts in the game then them simply standing around talking about it There s even the part where Julia guesses it wrong and has to think quickly on her feet to figure out who it is right in that moment UGH.In the end, I d probably read the second novel in this new Julia Kydd series because I genuinely liked Julia s character However, I hope next go around we get to the meat and potatoes of the story a little quicker and the big reveal is a little entertaining to read then just pages of dialogue.