In keeping with my obsession with all things historic, today I present The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati. I had this review scheduled to go live on 4 September, but issues with my hosting provider and their not following through and meeting the timeframes they established have this post going late.
A lengthy and involved tale of late 19th century New York and two female physicians dealing with the changes, attitudes and ills of the city. Please read on for my review of this wonderfully engaging title, perfectly suited to the historic fiction fan that is me.
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.
Title: The Gilded Hour
Author: Sara Donati
Genre: Literary Fiction
Published by: Berkley
Published on: 1 September, 2015
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 31 Hours: 14 minutes
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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 copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.