Mary Turner has little use for sacrifice. As the niece of Erastus Corning, the prominent railway magnate, she is accustomed to financial security, society balls, and the flirtatious attention of her many suitors. When she marries the ambitious, though dull, banker Isaac Burch she secures an upper-class social position at the cost of a loveless relationship. Refusing to settle, Mary soon finds affection and passion in several extramarital dalliances. Her indiscretions result in a very public divorce trial, pitting the domineering husband against the repentant and disgraced wife. Based on the actual Illinois divorce trial of 1860 that riveted the country with newspapers headlines displaying the personal lives of the city’s most prominent residents, Burg’s novel probes human motivations and failings along with a social climate percolating with the demands for civil and social rights of women. Narrated through Mary’s diary entries and Isaac’s letters, Dalliance transports the reader with exquisitely researched detail into the material culture of Albany’s mid-19th century upper-crust society. Richly drawn characters and Burg’s eloquent style combine to make this an engrossing and emotionally powerful novel readers will not soon forget.