Monday, October 26, 2015

Review: The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati

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.

ARC received for review.

At first glance the sheer size of this volume at nearly seven hundred pages may seem a bit daunting the story and it's characters draw you in and you find the pages fly by quickly.

I'll admit that I wasn't overly fond of the two main characters, Anna and Sophie, at first but they did grow on me.  I did like Anna a smidge more since she was so forthright and open about things, but they were both solid characters and seemed like they really could have existed in the time period.  They felt like real people rather than female characters created to promote a more feminist view of the era.  Shockingly for historical fiction of this type the male characters were not caricatures and were well rounded in their own right.

Overall, this was an interesting read and it kept me engaged all the way to the rather surprising resolution.  If you are a fan of historical fiction, especially with a focus on independent female characters, then this would be an excellent choice and I certainly recommend it.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

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