Why did I become so riveted by Cora’s story? The diverse and colorful people in her world drew me in.
Cora was a genuine musical prodigy living in a society that barred her from using her gifts in public. Cora’s mother, Mrs. Dr. Keck, was a self-made patent medicine millionaire who ran her profitable business one step ahead of the law for 30 years. Cora’s closest college friend, Kitty Rogers, was the daughter of a jovial New York City building contractor who made his fortune through Tweed Ring connections, and another classmate, Marian Austin, traveled for seven days by steamship and transcontinental railway from the Kingdom of Hawaii to attend college in Poughkeepsie. Cora’s social world was jammed with unexpected and unconventional relationships and personalities. She left me so much detailed information about her daily affairs that writing this book was like taking a time machine tour through America as it really was in the year 1885. I decided to create an enthralling guidebook to the past written for 21st century readers because that is how I felt while researching the story and I wanted to share that experience. Details of Cora’s life resemble the details of modern people’s lives in surprising ways. The differences between them and us are where we can glimpse the essence of History.