BOOK CLUB: The Eighth Wonder

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The Eighth Wonder by Tania Farrelly is set in New York in 1897. 

Rose Kingsbury-Smith is the daughter of one of New York’s well-to-do families. She has always followed the beat of her own drum and aspires to become a great architect. 

Her mother has other ideas and wants Rose married off to any wealthy and suitable husband she can find.  Rose’s father has always supported Rose’s dreams.

Ethan Salt has a strong love for animals and that has led to him caring for as many as he possibly can including Lucifer the Lion and Daisy the Elephant. Both animals were considered man killers. 

But Ethan knows and loves these animals and his gentle care has the animals loving him in return. As rumours fly and money becomes tight it makes it harder for him to care for his beloved animals.

Rose attends a fancy dress ball one night where her path crosses with Ethans.  She is very taken with this charmer and his wonderful green eyes. Something is taken from her that night and that turns her entire life upside down.

This is an amazing story, and some parts that had my heart sinking at how horrible humans can be towards animals. When I researched I found that some of the things in the book were based on true stories.  I like to think that humans have become better over time.

A wonderful story with lots of twists and turns to keep you on your toes.  Well worth a read.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading  The Eighth Wonder by Tania Farrelly. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

ISBN: 9781761040733

Copy courtesy of: Penguin publishers

9 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Eighth Wonder

  1. An interesting read with insights as to how far women’s rights have come and historical moments portrayed in this book. This book has some great side stories to keep the reader interested and I loved reading Rose’s story and the ending. Will keep an eye out for future books by this author

  2. Thanks to Penguin and the Beauty and Lace Book Club for the opportunity to read The Eighth Wonder. This novel is Tania Farrelly’s debut and its clear she has undertaken a huge amount of research to create her characters and set the scene.
    It is set in New York at the end of the 19th century and is focussed on Rose Kingsbury Smith a privileged young woman who has a passion for architecture and supporting women’s rights. At this time women were still classed as “chattels” (of their parents and then their husbands) and not expected to have their own opinions or work in male dominated areas.
    The other main character is Ethan Salt, a young man who has worked in the circus and his passion is saving and caring for animals who had been mistreated by circus owners. He is constantly struggling to survive and have the resources to care for these animals. As a result he has at times resorted to thieving to fund his work and upset a lot of members of the establishment.
    It was interesting to read about the issues of workers’ and womens’ rights in New York at this period but sadly I really struggled to get into this novel. I just didn’t find the main characters particularly likeable, and I found the story rather predictable. However I did stick with it and at times I felt a little more involved, I particularly enjoyed the story of the relationship between Rose and her father and how he supported her.
    Thanks again to Penguin and Beauty and Lace Book Club.

  3. First of all, wow, what a cover! So eye-catching with the raised gold lettering, the circus tent and elephants in the background, and the beautiful woman at the front. I was instantly hooked. Never underestimate the allure of a wonderful cover!

    I loved this story. You don’t often get books set in 1897 New York, and it’s obvious Tania Farrelly has done her research about the life and times. The curiosity of it all was wonderful.

    The characters were also very unusual. Ethan Salt is a marvellous, complex, enigmatic character, a kind of anti-hero in the beginning due to his situation (and a very good young thief!), but an unapologetic man when the story flips forward and he cares for – and loves – mistreated circus animals in any way he can. His determination and values are not that of society, and he’s usually treated as an outcast. But at heart he is a man of honour and vision, much more so than some of the so-called powerful men of society at the time.

    Rose Kingsbury Smith is raised in privilege, and all her mother wants is for her to make an advantageous marriage in society. She is constrained by all the rules her mother (and society) insist on. But her dreams are to become an architect like her father, something unheard of for a woman.

    Rose and Ethan cross paths in an amazing scene when they are young – and both never forget it. When they cross paths again it is years later, ships that pass in the night, really, but their allure for each other burns bright. A sharp decline in the fortunes of Rose’s family brings them together yet again, but their friendship is forbidden, looked down upon. It will take a miracle for them to find happiness together, considering the difficult paths they’ve chosen to tread.

    The insight into society at the time is fascinating, as are the glimpses of the hedonistic entertainments (including the circus) society amuses itself with, even as other struggle to find money to pay the rent, and eat. Also the burgeoning struggle for equal rights for women – how much we owe these amazing people.

    Both Ethan and Rose have impossible visions for the future, and their faith in each other during their struggles to achieve their visions are wonderful. You’ll find out what ‘the eighth wonder’ is when you read the book; it’s rather special.

    Thanks to Penguin Australia and Beauty & Lace Bookclub for review copy! Loved it.

  4. Thank you for the copy of The Eighth Wonder by Tania Farrelly.

    This is the story of Rose Kingsbury Smith who lives in New York in 1897. She has a certain standing in society and must follow the rules of her Mother. Her main goal for her is to marry well. Unfortunately Rose does not do all as she should. She would like to follow in her father’s steps and become an architect. When her family hit hard times she is their best asset, but only wants her independence. This sets her on a journey with twists and turns, including fighting for the equality of women. Ethan Salt has had a harder upbringing involving circus life which set him on a different path. He ends up later saving and looking after animals including a beloved elephant Daisy. He is struggling with their upkeep. When he and Rose meet it sends their lives in many different directions and nothing is set in stone.

    It is a fantastical story of fighting for your passions when the times were harder for most. I loved the growth of the characters and how they chose to live their lives. It made me think about how comparatively easy we have things, and the courage Rose and Ethan displayed is admirable. I enjoyed this book for the historical aspect and what I could learn about courage, growth and never giving up.

  5. This debut novel by Tania Farrelly ‘The Eighth Wonder’ is by far one of the best if not THE best historical fictions I have ever read and I have read quite a few. It is superbly written with such detail and an amazing vocabulary that will transport you into a very interesting period of history, the gilded age of New York 1897 when the suffragette movement was beginning to make inroads into society and the A S P C A were working to protect animals at that time, particularly horses that were often mistreated by the pulling of carriages and farm equipment.

    Rose Kingsbury Smith is expected to do what her parents require of her and that is to find a respectable and wealthy husband. This becomes more of an issue when a family heirloom is stolen which is about to bring the family into financial ruin and Rose becomes the ticket out of the situation. Rose however is a very determined and strong willed woman who has aspirations of becoming an architect.

    Meanwhile Ethan Salt is working hard to protect animals from a former circus which he finds it a financial struggle but still has hopes of building an animal sanctuary one day.

    This is a mesmerizing story full of charismatic characters that will stay with you long after you have read the story.

    What a remarkable read!!

    I am so looking forward to reading more from Tania Farrelly.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Penguin books Australia for the opportunity to read this amazing novel.

  6. Thank you so much Beauty and Lace and Penguin books for this fabulous debut novel from Tania Farrelly.

    Where to start! I have just finished it and had to write this straight away. I knew it was going to be great from the start. I love books written about the past and the struggles that people had to overcome.

    Rose, a young women in the 1800’s, always wanted to follow her father and become a great architect, but back then it was a man’s world. She was such a strong character and put up quite a fight though. I loved getting to know Rose throughout the pages.

    The way animals were treated by humans is quite distressing to me. Ethan showed so much love and compassion for all animals it showed the other side of humanity. I actually had to put this book down to compose myself at points as it was quite confronting.
    There are many different topics and aspects to this book that keep it interesting all the way through.

    I loved this book and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a historical fiction.
    I look forward to many more from this author.

  7. I really enjoyed this historical fiction set in the late 1880’s.
    This is a story of the emergence of the women’s suffragette movement with the main character Rose not settling for life as a rich man’s wife. She is looking to a career in architecture as her future.
    A second storyline is that of Ethan Salt an orphan, who runs away and joins a circus. Ethan becomes an advocate for abused animals, not only from the circus but also those used in fighting rings for entertainment.
    The Eighth Wonder is a captivating, character driven novel. There are plenty of hurdles for the characters to navigate and Tania Farrelly has brought 19th century Manhattan to life on the page.

  8. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Penguin for this wonderful book.

    From the eye catching cover to the magical blurb you know this is going to be an amazing read.
    The Eight Wonder takes us on a journey through 1890’s New York, upper and lower classes and animal treatment.
    We start at the crossing of a bridge by P.T. Barnum and his elephants and this is where we meet our two main characters.
    Rose comes from the upper class of New York where her mother can’t wait to marry her off to a nice rich man. Rose is wanting her own independence and the right for women’s equality. She wants a career not just to marry a man of means and be stuck at home.
    Ethan is our other main character and as a child he ran away and joined the circus, now he just wants to live peacefully and build a sanctuary for the many animals he has rescued.

    The book is peppered with little bits of ‘elephant’, which are all part of the story and have been woven into it incredibly well.

    Tania Farrelly in her debut novel has written a wonderful story full of wonder and delight and harshness and cruelty and will have you smiling and sad as you read.

  9. Thank you beauty and lace for the opportunity to read and review The Eighth Wonder. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was eye opening to read about the way animals were treated and sadly still are treated to this day. If you love historical fiction this book is for you. Mystery, feminism, death and love all parts of this beautiful story.

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