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The Invitation

Narrated by: Caroline Lee
Length: 15 hrs and 42 mins
4.8 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Summary

In Gilded Age New York, money buys everything. What is your price? From the best-selling author of Tuscan Rose comes a mesmerising tale of two sisters and the dangers and seductions of excess. 

Sometimes the ties that bind are the most dangerous of all....

Paris, 1899. Emma Lacasse has been estranged from her older sister for nearly 20 years, since Caroline married a wealthy American and left France. So when Emma receives a request from Caroline to meet her, she is intrigued. Caroline invites Emma to visit her in New York, on one condition: Emma must tutor her shy, young niece, Isadora, and help her prepare for her society debut. 

Caroline lives a life of unimaginable excess and opulence as one of New York's Gilded Age millionaires, and Emma is soon immersed in a world of luxury beyond her wildest dreams - a far cry from her bohemian lifestyle as a harpist and writer with her lover, Claude, in Montmartre.  

Emma hopes for an emotional reunion with her only family, but instead she finds herself in the viselike grip of her charismatic and manipulative sister, who revels in the machinations of the ultrarich. As Emma begins to question her sister's true motives, a disaster strikes, and New York society is stripped bare - beneath the glittering exterior lies a seething nest of deceit, betrayal, moral corruption...and perhaps even murder.

©2018 Belinda Alexandra (P)2019 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

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Profile Image for Suzanne-Marie
  • Suzanne-Marie
  • 08-04-19

A mixed bag for this reader, this time!

While I’ve read and enjoyed four others of Belinda Alexander’s books and have been confident of Caroline Lee’s narration, this wasn’t one of my favorite collaborations, at all. I thought The Invitation was slow to gain steam. Between it nearly losing me in interest, content and pace for about the first 1/3,I almost stopped listening and returned it because of the narration. With this book, I could barely stand Ms Lee’s reading: her interpretation of French words and phrases made me cringe every time. I found her verbal contortions of these French attempts to be painful distractions. Unfortunately, these occasions happened many times in every chapter and it was like nails on the chalkboard for me, every time. The Invitation did have some interesting descriptions and factoids of the many preposterous aspects of the Gilded Age woven throughout, and, this aspect became a greater proportion as the story progressed. One can tell that Belinda Alexander always does a good job of researching her books. I appreciate that. Some Audible selections I listen to more than once. I can’t imagine I would do so with The Invitation.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Enchantment1
  • 27-11-19

Excellent in every way

Belinda Alexandra is so amazing how she fits the story and characters into the authentic setting of the times. And Caroline Lee is the absolute best narrator. I love her beautiful elegant pronunciation and expression, and she often makes me smile.

5 people found this helpful

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  • M. Diamond
  • 26-05-19

“A Must Listen “

Belinda Alexandra has become one of my most favorite writers, combined with Caroline Lee’s narration it’s a pure joy to listen to. As soon as a book is finished I usually skip the acknowledgments and move on , not here I want to listen to every last word . The story takes place during the Gilded Age of New York when great fortunes were made . Like Dickens the writer also reveals the darker side and the plight of those less fortunate. Plus I wish there was a category at the Grammy’s for best narration because Caroline Lee would get it ,. I highly recommend!

11 people found this helpful

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  • Assaka115
  • 05-04-19

Mispronunciations abound

This is actually a very good story, however my issue is with the narrator. She keeps mispronouncing words and it started to make me nuts. She has the same person with an British accent speak with an American accent. The word “debut” seems to be extra tough.

9 people found this helpful

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  • AIMEE LIBEU
  • 18-02-20

Fake accents.

The performer does a very poor American accent which I find distracting. Equally distracting was the “down under” accent of a character who grew up in North America and Paris. If the performer can undertake an American accent for an American character, why no attempt to give a French woman an accent.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Shauna Stotler-Hardy
  • 05-02-20

Satisfactory

The main character never progressed until the very end. It was frustrating that the character remained naive when she was to be in her 30s and an artist from Paris having struggled. Those struggles should have taught her something more of human nature.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 26-01-20

Main Character Not Very Likable!

I am an avid reader and many times I have an audible book and 3 - 4 other books in various locations going at the same time. I enjoyed the book but the main character was so weak and whiny that after reaching the point in the plot where Emma finds out that Caroline had lied about their family to her daughter, I was ready to quit. No matter what Caroline did, Emma sucked it up. It made no sense that she would not have approached Oliver at several points in the story and asked for a loan. The story just got more outrageous as it developed that it lost all credibility. Just catching her with another man could have released her from the contract and the faked heart attack...Emma wasn't just weak, she was ignorant. The ending with Caroline coming out on top...just not going to happen during that time. I have read other Belinda Alexandra books and they are entertaining and this one was also. It was just hard to deal with such a weak protagonist.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mrs. Arthrell
  • 19-01-20

Disappointed

The story was uneven and had wordy descriptive sections that didn’t contribute to the storyline. Some of the subplots were unfinished and the whole connection to the American Civil War had a time frame gap. The narration was a big problem for me. Overall, it sounded labored and heavy. The voice of Emma, a Parisian, had no French accent while other French characters did. Emma’s accent drifted between British and American, while other American characters had southern accents - in New York! It was distracting. Also, some words were pronounced in the less common usage, particularly debut, a word in the central theme. While saying “deboo” is acceptable, it’s not the commonly use “Dey-byoo” that was used. It was also distracting, as were others.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Christine
  • 01-10-19

Terrible

Predictable and boring story. Like a mediocre Harlequin novel read by an uninspired school teacher.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Joan
  • 05-08-20

Fabulous story

I could not stop listening to The Invitation, the story, the characters, the narrator Caroline Lee were incredible! Really loved this book!