The Gilded Hour

The Gilded Hour

eBook - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
The international bestselling author of Where the Light Enters presents a remarkable epic about two female doctors in nineteenth-century New York.

The year is 1883, and in New York City, Anna Savard and her cousin Sophie—both graduates of the Woman's Medical School—treat the city's most vulnerable, even if doing so puts 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 anti-vice crusader 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 novel by an author at the height of her powers.
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Dec 12, 2020

Loved this book! Well written, interesting, about 1880's New York City. Long - over 700 pages. I didn't want it to end! 😕

Jul 18, 2017

What a slog this book turned out to be. It seemed like it could be interesting, but then really fell apart. The pacing is very uneven. Whole plot lines and characters disappeared. Sophie was a main character, until she wasn’t. A printer and his family seem like they’re going to be important to the story, until to vanish from the book. Over halfway through the book a serial killer plot line starts out of nowhere. I found out after I finished the book that this book is intended to be the first in a series, which I guess explains why very little got resolved. At over 700 pages though, this book should have been able to stand on its own. The story also just was not realistic. Women doctors in the 1880s, especially biracial ones, would have faced a lot more discrimination than a few dirty looks. It’s insulting to act like all anyone needs to do in order to overcome discrimination is to have moxie.

Oct 25, 2016

This is one of the slowest moving books I have EVER read--very "sloggish." Even so, some interesting historical information was interwoven into the story and I appreciated that. (However, the first women's medical school was actually in Philadelphia, not NY.) I was also disappointed when I finished it because after making it through the 741 pages, all of the storylines were not completed and I am not motivated enough to pursue another volume.

Sep 23, 2016

An atmospheric, romantic, late 19th century novel weaving family, immigration, advances in modern medicine, women's health and serial killer into one extended story.
Loved the relationship between Anna and Jack. Loved the descriptions of Lower Manhattan in the 1880s. But too many story lines created a disjointed narrative. Plus there is a major cliffhanger at the end that could have easily been resolved in the defined pages of the book.
Additionally, I thought this was a stand alone novel -- but many of the characters and their history are descendants from characters from the author's Into the Wilderness series. I've read the first one, but not any others in the series and in many parts the author assumed you should know historical information from the previous novels and characters. I was confused most of the time and had to go to the author's website to find a genealogical chart just to figure out where everyone fit it in.
For the two weeks it took me to read this, I wish I had liked it better than 3 stars.

8767julie Sep 19, 2016

I absolutely loved this book. I thought the 700+ pages might be a slog to get through but I was disappointed when I had finished it. I wanted more..... and now will eagerly look forward to revisiting these same characters in the sequel.

Apr 15, 2016

I enjoy historical fiction and I loved this book. It is set in the early 1880s in the New York area. Two of the main characters are women doctors--one is a surgeon--and I learned a lot about women in the medical profession at that time.

The clear description of NY at that time, the politics and the politicians is an underlying story as is the story of 4 young orphans, a policeman who is a cut above the rest, classes in society, etc. The author did a great deal of research and it showed!

In all, it is a great story and I am looking forward to the sequel.

Feb 23, 2016

A good read which illustrate social customs of the day (1880's) in America. Early women doctors and medicine of the times is a major part of this book.

Feb 18, 2016

What a wonderful book! I truly enjoyed reading this; so much that I emailed the author to thank her (and she responded!). There is an entire website with information about this book and how the characters relate to the characters in the Wilderness series.

Feb 03, 2016

Truly loved this book and its characters! I can't wait for the next in this new series.

Jan 21, 2016

Sara Donati is the author of the "Wilderness" series; a six book set of novels focusing on the Bonner family as they raise a family in the latter part of the 18th century. This book is the first of a new series that features an unusual New York household beginning in 1883. Donati cleverly uses the descendants of her earlier series as the main characters in this novel (a built-in fan base). The title of the book,,,"The Gilded Hour"... is a phrase used on the very last page of the novel, but I think it might also be a nod to the term coined by Mark Twain. He called the years between 1870 and 1900 the gilded age; it was gilded on the outside but underneath poverty, women's issues, sanitation, health, racism and a host of other problems prevailed. Meanwhile people, like the Astor family, could spend a million dollars on a single party.
The head of the household in this novel is the elderly Aunt Quinlan, who was born in the second book of the "Wildeness" series. She presides over a household that includes her two physician nieces and a step-daughter. There is a noticeable absence of men in the household since the civil war cut down so many young male lives twenty years earlier.
I believe that Sara Donati should have included a family tree because most of the main characters are descended from three branches of the "Wilderness" Bonner family BUT good news.. if you are really interested there is a family tree on I should mention that there is no need to read the other series to appreciate this novel, in fact, you would probably have to go through ILL if you chose to do that. This is a good historical fiction novel with some romance and adventure and even a whodunit ... which brings me to my biggest complaint. Some things shouldn't have to wait for a sequel. (We have a cliffhanger folks)
A hefty book at 723 pages.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
Feb 23, 2016

Evelyn57 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Subject Headings


Find it at MBLN

To Top