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Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010

‘A Matter of Happenstance’ at Next Chapter Bookshop

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In A Matter of Happenstance, Wisconsin author Catherine Underhill Fitzpatrick brings readers a 19th- and 20th-century saga focused around the rise and fall of a prestigious Midwestern family. The impressively written novel pays sharp attention to historical accuracy as told through fictional characters and plots that converge with significant happenings from our country’s past. Moving fluidly from the Gilded Age of St. Louis’ high society to the dredges of a New Orleans brothel and a Chicago era that was defined by Al Capone, A Matter of Happenstance uncovers the lives of the Reinhardt family, whose department store conglomerate propels the moguls to the heights of affluence.

The book chronicles three generations of fictional Americans, individuals who serve as witnesses to the milestones of their time. The story centers on Fritz Reinhardt, the charismatic grandson of the family’s patriarchal entrepreneur. Fritz shocks relatives by his disdain for the department store. Instead of joining the family business, Fritz employs the momentum of the roaring 1920s to establish a successful brokerage firm. Wealth and the opportunities exclusive to the upper echelon of society define Fritz’s existence until outsiders shatter his palatial world and set in motion a series of incidents that result in tragedy, proving that history is not always a matter of happenstance at all.

This debut novelproves itself to be an authentic, epic tale that culminates in a fitting climactic disaster that neither the richest heirs nor the most downtrodden laborers can avoid.

Fitzpatrick, who identifies as a proud Wisconsinite today, set the story in St. Louis, the city that she called home for many years. A reporter by trade, Fitzpatrick gained national attention after the publication of powerful images of the 9/11 disaster captured in real time. A Matter of Happenstance is bursting with detailed passages and observations that can likely be attributed to Fitzgerald’s work as a successful reporter for St. Louis newspapers. Fitzpatrick will appear at Next Chapter Bookshop on Thursday, Nov. 18, for a 7 p.m. reading and book signing.