Nancy Moser: Love Among the 19th Century Newport Elite
With her acclaimed series of moving first-person novels, bestselling author Nancy Moser
gave unique and memorable voices to some of history’s greatest women. Now she turns her
talents to masterfully bring to life a grand and intriguing time in American history: The
An Unlikely Suitor is another deft exploration of the extremes of New York City life during
that time, with its juxtaposition of overridden slums and the lavish lives of the social elite.
In particular, Moser focuses on the opulence of 1890s Newport, where the most wealthy
spent their summers. When circumstances bring a working girl straight from the slums into
the glamour of society, her life, and the lives of those around her, will change in unexpected
1. Why did you write An Unlikely Suitor?
A few years ago my husband and I took a trip to Newport and were dazzled by the Gilded Age
homes there: “The Breakers,” “Marble House,” and “Chateau Sur-Mer,” to name a few. We both
have degrees in architecture, so we were fascinated from that aspect, but also because we have
an interest in the well-known families of that era, the Vanderbilts and the Astors. Their lifestyle
was beyond comprehension. For instance, these “cottages” that were tens of thousands of square
feet in size were only used six weeks every summer, and during that short slice of the year the
wealthy ladies of the house each needed over thirty dresses, created for the season. Since I had
a secondary character who was a seamstress in my novel Masquerade, I thought it would be fun
to let Lucy (and her mother and sister) make the dresses for a rich client. And if I could arrange
for the lowly seamstresses to leave New York City and actually go to Newport and experience
that lavish lifestyle and fall in love. . . Voilà! A Cinderella story: An Unlikely Suitor.
2. Almost every author puts a little of themselves into their stories. What of yourself did you
put into this one?
All three of the main characters reflect parts of me—often the parts that bring me little pride.
The immigrant seamstress Lucy, the dependable do-er, reflects my compulsive need to fix things
and organize, and shares my desire to know that in the end 1 plus 1 will equal 2. The rich girl,
Rowena, suffers from my non-confrontational bent, and my not-always-healthy need to please.
And Lucy’s little sister, Sofia, shares my youngest-child traits of being a bit spoiled and dramatic.
Hmmm. It sounds as if I could use this story for self-analysis. I assure you, that wasn’t planned,
but it’s not unusual. As my characters come to life, they always teach me something about my
character. I create them but they recreate me.
3. What is the take-away message you want readers to receive after reading An Unlikely Suitor?
I have a common theme in all my books: we each have a unique purpose; the trick is to find out
what it is. The characters in An Unlikely Suitor go on a journey of discovery. Along the way they
have to learn to surrender control to the Almighty. They also come to realize that God’s way is
the best way. No matter what mistakes they make, He works through all things for good.
4. Why is this story relevant today?
Class distinctions are timeless and can still be problematic, but true friendship and love erases
the lines between us. Plus, the desire to find purpose and direction in our lives is universal. An
Unlikely Suitor showcases both issues.
5. What makes your book different from others like it in the market?
My strength is characterization, intricate interlocking plots, and plentiful research. I attempt
to make my books as historically accurate as possible. Plus, I give the reader extra value for
the money. In the back of each book are discussion questions, a Fact & Fiction section where
I elaborate on some of the historical tidbits in the story, and a Fashion section where I show
vintage illustrations of some of the fashion worn by the characters. The combination should
elevate the story from simple fiction to letting the reader feel truly immersed in the story and in
the historical time it represents.