City of Light

City of Light It is 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

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 repute.Against this rich historical backdrop lives Louisa Barrett, the attractivIt 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 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 the reader 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.Wrought with remarkable depth and intelligence, City of Light remains a work completely of its own era, and of ours as well A stirring literary accomplishment, Lauren Belfer s first novel marks th

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    363 Lauren Belfer
City of Light

  1. Lauren Belfer s most recent novel, AND AFTER THE FIRE, received the inaugural Book Club Award of the 2016 National Jewish Book Awards.Lauren grew up in Buffalo, New York, and decided to become a writer when she was six years old By the time she was in high school, her literary work was receiving rejection letters from all the best publications Some of these letters included the initials of the person doing the rejecting, which she interpreted as encouragement After graduating from Swarth College with a B.A in Medieval Studies and Art History, she worked as a file clerk at an art gallery, a paralegal at a law firm, an assistant photo editor at a newspaper, a fact checker at magazines, and as a researcher and associate producer on documentary films All the while, she was getting up early in the morning to write fiction Her first published short story was rejected 42 times before it found an editor who loved it this was before the days of self publishing Her second published story was rejected only 27 times Lauren s debut novel, CITY OF LIGHT, was a New York Times bestseller, as well as a New York Times Notable Book Her second novel, A FIERCE RADIANCE, was named a Washington Post Best Novel, an NPR Best Mystery, and a New York Times Editors Choice It was included in the posting, 20 Moments that Changed History A Reading List In a four star review, USA Today said that Lauren s third novel, AND AFTER THE FIRE, swells with life s great themes love and death, family and faith and the insistent, dark music of loss Lauren has an M.F.A from Columbia University, and she lives in New York City.To learn about Lauren and her work, please visit her website and follow her on Facebook LaurenBelferfacebook AuthorLaurenBelfer

153 Reply to “City of Light”

  1. This started so well The distinctive unmarried heroine Life in the high society of Buffalo An all girls school Electricity, when it first arrived on the scene Then the fluff took over


  2. Boring Slow Depressing Too long Too many infodumps Not even Rapey Grover Cleveland could inject any zip And let s face it if Rapey Grover Cleveland isn t enough to get your story moving, you need to rethink your plot cycle PIn short blatant bookclub fodder that s fully aware of its Literary Aspects, thereby ruining the enjoyment of reading 2 stars for the occasional pretty turn of phrase The story itself had potential, but it was squandered by the erudite flag waving.


  3. Meh I really wanted to like this, but it was a struggle First, history isn t so much inter weaved as it is patched on It s jarring to just have historical anecdotes thrown in like footnotes that don t know their place Things like not an actual example We went to X park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1897 Ok, interesting, but not exactly a seamless addition to the narrative.My second problem is that the whole thing was way too blunt and transparent The narrator explains everything, holding [...]


  4. City of LightThis is Lauren Lefler s first novel, and it s easy to see why it won so many plaudits I m reading it because I was so impressed by her second novel Her protagonist, Louisa Barrett, is the headmistress of a school for girls in Buffalo, NY, in 1901 The city is on the verge of hosting the Pan American Exposition during which President McKinley is assassinated and as the Niagra Falls hydroelectric plant expands the city will become even prominent In this dynamic context Louisa delicate [...]


  5. Buffalo NY in 1901 is one of the most important cities in the US, if not the world With it s numerous ports it is a gateway for shipping to the world It s industry and electrified streets have made it a model city for the new century and many important people have made it their home.The city is finishing plans to open the much anticipated Pan American Exposition at which a newhydroelectric power plant will be opened The plant is causing much unrest in the city between power brokers supporting it [...]


  6. I ve read well over half of this, so feel a little silly not finishing it off I m somewhat less than enchanted, though, so I m going to be a quitter The reviews on this were really good, but I had some problems with it The dialog felt flat to me, and the main character felt as vague, fuzzy and uninteresting as the figure on the cover And then there s the whole Grover Cleveland raped me plotline Now, I love when real people make appearances in fiction, and I m not one to whine about the inaccurac [...]


  7. Really liked this book a good story, compelling Takes place in late 1890s to early 1900s, in Buffalo, NY The backdrop is the Pan American Exibition and city fathers businessmen are readying the city, as this event will draw thousands, including politicians, and getting your city noticted never hurts But that is just the backdrop and, no it is not a murder story as in Devil in the White City, also featuring a world s fair, and the wonder of electricity Louisa Barrett is the headmistress of a girl [...]


  8. I love this book for two reasons it takes place where I grew up in Buffalo, NY, and because I have a particular interest in this era The detail and historical references of the city of Buffalo take me to the time when our city was bustling with richness and possibilities while preparing for the Pan American Exhibition I had to take a drive through it with a new vision and appreciation for buildings that we have seen thousands of times I have lived here my entire life and never knew the history b [...]


  9. Loved this historical novel set in Buffalo at the turn of the 20th century The author mentions real places, real buildings, etc and weaves local history into a mystery At the time there was a lot of wealth in the city, it was still a major port, the power plant was new, beautiful buildings were being built, they hosted the 1901 PanAmerican Exhibition, and during that, President McKinley was shot Fascinating Story really kept my interest all the way through Written from the viewpoint of the a wom [...]


  10. As a Buffalonian born in the late 1960 s I loved this book It made me feel like I was part of a thriving city on the verge of something greater Unfortunately as most current Buffalonians know, the city hasn t yet hit those days of grandour again But the book was very well written and the research took me on a quest I found myself in the Ellicott Sqaure building, in front of the elevators looking at the swastikas embedded in the tiled floor I had walked those floors many times but never noticed t [...]


  11. I was loving this historical fiction novel at first I felt it made Buffalo NY at the turn of the century when it was known as The City of Light come alive and the author was sensitive to roles of race and gender at the timeframe instead of glossing over that The main character is independent and likable and I was learning history at the same time.Unfortunately, and maybe this was her trying to be true to the realities of an independent woman during that time frame, the story takes an incredulous [...]


  12. One of the only books I ve read with a historical basis in American history outside of wartime, this novel opened a window to a realm of our history I had no knowledge of, and did it with such clarity and such empathetic characterization, it must be rated A Belfer s portrait of the male community leaders and the incredible power they wielded over even highly independent women was most enlightening, though I suspect that s one aspect of society that has changed less than I might imagine, at least [...]


  13. I simply LOVED this book I am a Buffalo girl and it was really fun to be able to find the house I was living in on the book jacket I learned a lot about Buffalo history in a very interesting book I loved how the author wove the fictional story completely into a real setting with real historical facts I really felt the characters and the story unfolding I also enjoyed reading about the amazing architecture, as well as the building of the first power plant Excellent job Would recommend to anyone, [...]


  14. This is a well written historical fiction set in the late 1800 s, early 1900s The power station at Niagara Falls is being constructed and at the same time the Pan American Exposition is occuring President McKinley is assassinated towards the end of the book The City of Light is Buffalo where electricity is being brought into the buildings and homes to replace gas lamps and release the city of the pall of darkness the gas clouds leave hanging over it Automobiles are a rare occurence but will be r [...]


  15. Lauren Belfer immerses the reader in the turn of the century city of Buffalo It is an exciting time where change and industrialization is worshiped It is a time for women as well as men Their position in society is changing they are becoming increasingly educated and able to impact through social change It is a time to come to America and walk the streets of gold Immigrants from eastern Europe flock to this country and cause upheavals of their own It is the time for the worker Industries are tar [...]


  16. I applaud anyone who wants to bring the rich history of western New York to the world through writing or art The novel includes much information and research and provides a good feel for Buffalo at the turn of the century and what was at stake for the landscape and the people That said, the main character was inconsistent and unbelievable, and the plot veered over the falls about a third of the way through I enjoyed several of the strands of story, and was hooked enough to find out what happens [...]


  17. The main character and her story line are fiction, but the places, events and people are actually based on historical occurances that happened in Buffalo, NY, which is my home town.Set in the Pan Am era early 1900s , Buffalo was once one of the country s richest cities, due to the Erie Canal and Niagara Falls It was interesting reading about familiar places, buildings and streets, which are all a part of the Queen City s fascinating history I would love to have been able to see Buffalo in it s p [...]


  18. A complex historical thriller set at the turn of the twentieth century, when the first power stations were being established at Niagara Falls It was a time of great hope with promises to roll back the darkness and let poor children read by electric light and great conflict, between unionists, black people, and nature preservationists against the powerful new industrialists It s all told from the perspective of the spinster head teacher of the local girl s school, who bears a major secret of her [...]


  19. Lauren Belfer s City of Light discusses Buffalo, NY at the turn of the last century In this novel, Belfer explores Buffalo through the eyes of Louisa Barret Ms Barrett is the headmistress of the Macaulay school This book has a touch of mystery and history I would recommend it anyone who likes a good novel and enjoys reading about the history of Buffalo and the time of the Pan American Exposition.


  20. Maybe 3.5 A thoroughly researched and densely plotted novel centering on 1906 Buffalo, New York Well done, if a bit heavy on the exposition It seems that no fact about Buffalo was too trivial to include As I am not the target audience for this book, I didn t connect with the protagonist as Belfer s intended readers probably did.


  21. I don t frequently get to describe historical fiction as intersectional feminist, but Lauren Belfer s City of Light falls into that heading And it s also loads of fun Belfer mixes prose styles from Daphne Du Maurier and Margaret Atwood, with the drama of a Soap Opera, and the heart and tragedy of Little Women Worth a read if you can handle all that.


  22. Good mix of fact and fiction If you are from Buffalo, NY, you will enjoy this tale of the early years of the 1900 s.


  23. Although this book is just shy of 500 pages, I read it in 3 days, and I also managed to grade stack of essays and read part of another book I also made myself slow down to enjoy all the description and really try to soak in some of the history I have always enjoyed historical fiction, but rarely do I pay much attention to the details of the place since I don t really KNOW the place personally However, City of Light takes place at the turn of the last century when Buffalo hosted the Pan American [...]


  24. Some day I know Goodread will allow me to use a half star but until then I will give City of Light a 3 rating.I liked the book but I think what I liked about the book was the opportunity to read about Buffalo Both of my parents are from Buffalo and we would spend every summer visiting my grandparents I remember visiting one set of grandparents in Kaiser town where everyone spoke Polish My maternal grandparents lived closer to the Elmwood Ave area I can remember seeing all the grand houses, walki [...]


  25. If I had to chose one word to describe City of Light I would use dissapointing As someone who lives in Buffalo, NY I ve heard quite a bit of fuss amde about this book over the years Despite my intrests in Buffalo, history and period stories this book and I just did not mesh properly For a mystery novel the mystery was very drawn out and dull, also a little too easy to predict The big reveal didn t come soon enough towards the end and then the actual ending of the novel seemed awkward, forced and [...]


  26. Much political and economic intrigue among the kingpins of turn of the century Buffalo society centering around a single headmistress with a secret and the family she is closest to I was drawn in and had to know what happened, so I read it in three days The attitudes of those in power presented in this will jar many of us, though sadly are also reflected in our world to this day Fascinating look at Buffalo and turn of the century history involving societal values, civil rights movements, histori [...]


  27. Cover blurbs are too intense I did not think the mystery was particularly gripping The book is full of Louisa explaining the etiquette and subtext of upper class society at the turn of the century, which is really helpful for understanding, but can get to be a little much Also, since I kind of know Buffalo, I spent half the book just trying to orient myself in the city as Louisa wandered around making house calls I did enjoy learning about the electrical development and the Pan Am exposition, bo [...]


  28. I had read this author s other book A Fierce Radiance and really liked it so I was motivated to read this one She does a good job of presenting factual issues in a fictional setting This book takes place in Buffalo, NY and is about the mass production of electricity at the turn of the century Since I spend time near there every summer at Chautauqua, NY, I was most interested in reading it Surprisingly, I almost gave up It took a while for the story to capture my interest Once it did however, I c [...]


  29. I enjoyed this book very much The city is Buffalo and the history is not that we ll known to thos of us not from around Buffalo I knew a president was assisted here and where, but I did not know about the history of electricity at Niagara Falls It was a good story and gave good background in the history of the early 1900 s in that place Just the picture of traveling in winter on a sleigh with sleigh bells amidst the snow made me think about how much nicer some things were in the past than the ca [...]


  30. I was disappointed with this book Because of the excellent writing and intriguing setting, I was instantly hooked However, as the book went on I felt as if the author had researched every bad thing that happened in Buffalo from 1900 1909 and decided to exploit them I am all for enlightening readers to the downfalls of government, society, or business, but there should be to the book than that I kept waiting for something likable to happen and it never did The lead character Louisa, was supposed [...]


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