Tillie Reese, a bright young woman hindered by the extreme poverty in the mountains of New York, gets the job of her dreams—a position as a housemaid in George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate. Surrounded by beauty and opulence, Tillie doesn’t mind the physical demands of being a servant. Meanwhile, Mack Danver will do anything to save money so he can get his sister out of the school for orphans. His twin brother, Earl, is a footman for the Vanderbilts, and when Mrs. Vanderbilt sees Mack, she decides to make the handsome brothers a “matched set.” Although well read, Mack is a mountain man at heart, and he hates being at the beck and call of the privileged upper class. However, the need to save his sister trumps his distaste. Then it’s love at first sight for Mack and Tillie, but rules against the help dating each other make Tillie fight her attraction with all the strength she can muster. Gist’s snapshot of the lives of late-nineteenth-century servants is rich in detail, and readers will root for Gist’s characters as they face one difficult situation after another with courage and faith. Another crowd-pleaser from this popular author. –Shelley Mosley —
I have visited Biltmore Estate about 6 years ago while vacationing at my Dad’s cabin near Ashville and I remember how impressed I was with the place. Now, I have visited quite a few palaces and castles in Europe including England, Germany, Austria and France by then and you can really compare Biltmore Estate to them in terms of scale. But it was impressive, nonetheless. Plus they have the cutest (?) winery and a wonderful restaurant.
This book doesn’t go into too much detail of the place but it still makes you be surprised by how advanced the Vanderbilts were in both technology and open mindset. I felt that there wasn’t enough depth to each character but it was a good and relaxing reading.