Interiors intrigue me. Like many New Yorkers, I am often tempted to see what is inside those great doorman-barricaded buildings that line Fifth Avenue or Park Avenue. Step into the marble lobby, ride the elevator to the penthouse and let your imagination be carried aloft. What would it be like to live in a vast suite overlooking Central Park, with its parquet floors, coffered ceilings, and handsome antiques? Surely, dwelling here means being beautiful, rich and glamorous.
In reality, most people who live in big cities live in small rooms with tiny closets and a bathroom barely large enough to turn around in. But one can dream.
The three novels I have chosen allow fanciful musings of the Gilded Age — which roughly spans the period in American history between Reconstruction and the turn of the 20th century — with its grand apartments and lavish furnishings. But of course, then, as now, most people lived in cramped quarters with little to look at. And if life amongst the gilded rich seemed enchanting, for the masses existence could be dreary at best.