Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Review: The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati

Title: The Gilded Hour
Author: Sara Donati
Format: ARC
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: September 1, 2015
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "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."

My Two Cents:

"The Gilded Hour" is a new historical fiction offering from Sara Donati, author of the "Wilderness" series, which I would now really like to read. In this book, she takes us to 1880s New York and into the lives of Anna and Sophie Savard. Anna is a physician and so is Sophie, but she is also a "free woman of color," which adds another layer of complexity to her life. This book has a lot of intrigue and weaves an intimate picture of some fascinating characters. 

The story focuses on the women as they try to make a living in the rapidly changing New York City. Through their work, they put themselves in the sights of Anthony Comstock, author of the Comstock Act, which banned sending items such as erotica and contraceptives through the U.S. Postal Service. Because of some of the procedures that the women perform, they are targets. It was fascinating to me to see how far acts like the Comstock Act went in the name of legislating morality. I actually did not know much about the Comstock Act before this book. 

This book is not merely about the politics and morality at the time. There is a huge part of the story arc that has to do with one of the cousins' patients that was endlessly fascinating to me. The book also has a family aspect as well as a romantic aspect. There is something for everyone!

This book is quite long at over 700 pages. Some parts could definitely be slimmed down such as some of the parts where the author gave a little bit too much detail about what various characters were thinking. There were some cases of telling instead of showing here, which bogged down the story. Overall, though, the story was interesting and kept me entertained. I am looking forward to reading more by this author!


  1. Wow! This one sounds good. 700 pages seems a little long, though, so I'm not sure when I'll find time to read it. It's one my 'someday' list!

  2. I love a good historical and this one sounds so fascinating!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

  3. Am looking forward to reading this one. Cheers from Carole's chatter


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