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 www.thegildedhour.com. 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.

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