The Gilded Hour
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The international bestselling author of Into the Wilderness makes her highly anticipated return with a remarkable epic about two female doctors in nineteenth-century New York and the transcendent power of courage and love…
The year is 1883, and in New York City, it’s a time of dizzying splendor, crushing poverty, and tremendous change. With the gravity-defying Brooklyn Bridge nearly complete and New York in the grips of anti-vice crusader Anthony Comstock, Anna Savard and her cousin Sophie—both graduates of the Woman’s Medical School—treat the city’s most vulnerable, even if doing so may put everything they’ve strived for in jeopardy.
Anna's work has placed her in the path of four children who have lost everything, just as she herself once had. Faced with their helplessness, Anna must make an unexpected choice between holding on to the pain of her past and letting love into her life.
For Sophie, an obstetrician and the orphaned daughter of free people of color, helping a desperate young mother forces her to grapple with the oath she took as a doctor—and thrusts her and Anna into the orbit of Anthony Comstock, a dangerous man who considers himself the enemy of everything indecent and of anyone who dares to defy him.
With its vivid depictions of old New York and its enormously appealing characters, The Gilded Hour is a captivating, emotionally gripping novel that proves Sara Donati is an author at the height of her powers.
A Seattle Times Best Book of 2015!
From the Hardcover edition.
masterful and flows perfectly from one moment to the next.
Anna and Sophie are cousins, with the ties of family and history showing strongly in the story. Both graduates of the Women’s Medical College, these two are working against the odds: society doesn’t believe women are as viable as men in medicine. Beyond that frustration (which they both expected) there are the dangers, the hardships and the abject poverty that they will encounter through their work.
Told with details that bring the city to light, good and bad, the voices of both Anna and Sophie are clear and present, engaging the reader, bringing empathy and a view that feels as if you could be there, watching over their shoulders. Their actions are completely in keeping with their own personalities and beliefs, fully integrated characters that are accessible and present for readers and a true treat to read.
With a fairly formidable cast of characters, most secondary and met in passing, it would feel rushed and overwhelming if details and time were not taken. But Donati paints pictures with broad strokes, filling in details with smaller shadows and highlights, then penciling in the finest bits: in pieces, it looks disjointed and crowded, but all together it is masterful and flows perfectly from one moment to the next. Not quite a read in one sitting title at over 750 pages, this was one that I finished in 2 long blocks of reading, always tossing moments back and forth when the book was idle. A wonderful read.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
The Gilded Hour
I picked this book up at the library, having never read anything about nor heard of the author. When I read in the forward and realized that this was the latest book in Donat’s Wilderness Series, I was interested somewhat in the series. When I finished this beautifully researched historical novel ( with sex, although I wouldn’t call it a romance genre novel) I realized I that I should go back and read the entire series. Throughout the series, major themes are pioneer life on the New York frontier with a culture that effortlessly combines native American and “rational thinking” rather than the overtly Christian assumption that we’ve been brought up with, racial harmony within a larger culture that is not tolerant, and most specifically, the role of women in the art and practice of medicine from the late 18th century through the late 19th and very early 20th. Warning for the prudish: sex is frankly depicted, andd in one book, a particularly despicable female character goads a male character into sex which is witnessed by two of the Bonner children. The author has done meticulous research into life on the New York border between the United States and Canada, with a view of medicinal practices throughout the long historical period, particularly midwifery, in contrast with those of New York City. The setting of the books before The Gilded Hour is the fictional settlement of Paradise, with forays into Scotland, Louisiana, and Manhatten. In each volume, the author includes a map of the town of Paradise, New York City, and/or the Louisiana of the War of 1812, and a genealogical chart of the extended Bonner family. I fell in love with the Wilderness series , and look forward to the sequel to The Gilded Hour, which links that series with a new one. Be sure to check Donati’s web site fork more information. In conclusion, I must say I’ve never read 7 long books in such a short span of time. You won’t be disappointed.
The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati
I just finished this book having done a marathon read of her previous "Into The Wilderness" series. I am enthralled with the interwoven histories of her characters and the history of America in it's formative years as a frontier, and then later as a burgeoning metropolis. To say that I was also intrigued and entertained seems too trivial an attempt for conveyance of my deep appreciation of Donati's gift for writing. I look forward to the next book and to recommending this author and her works to as many friends as I can.