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The Gilded Hour

por Sara Donati

Séries: Gilded Hour (1)

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4762938,624 (4.03)12
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.… (mais)
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It’s 1883 in old New York. Anna Savard and cousin Sophie Savard are both physicians; and while that is rare enough for women, rarer still is the fact that Sophie is bi-racial, a ‘free woman of color’ in the phrase of the times. Anna and Sophie work among the poorest of the poor, while socializing with New York’s high society. Into Anna’s world comes Jack Mezzanotte, a NYC police detective, and four immigrant orphans. The story is an immensely readable historical novel that touches on the state of medicine in the 1880s when the role of germs was just starting to be understood, the position of women, the Comstock act and Anthony Comstock himself, Italian immigrants, and the state of orphan children and the ‘outdoor poor.’ I really enjoyed this. It is not at all plot-driven although a dreadful crime is at its center. The first in a new historical series by this author. ( )
  rglossne | Jul 1, 2020 |
A very long book, discussing two female doctors in the 1880’s. The story includes a focus on the doctors at that time, performing abortions in New York’s back alleys, the plight of children abandoned by their parents, as well as a love story. Well researched, but VERY long. ( )
  Pmaurer | Jun 26, 2020 |
This is the type of historical fiction I often love - it's a big story of two female doctors in an era where that was far from common. The doctors are cousins, Anna and Sophie Savard, but they are separated by the fact that Sophie is mixed race, another factor which makes her life more complicated. While I enjoyed reading about these women breaking gender barriers (and also one of the better sex scenes I've encountered) and, of course, the run-ins these women had with Anthony Comstock. And then, there's the mystery element, which centers around illegal abortions. The state of women's reproductive health in the late 19th century was heartbreaking and while I appreciate the story the author was trying to tell, it's not the tale I would choose to tell about this era. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jun 5, 2020 |
I love, love, love long stories. This is the story of life in 1880's New York City told through the eyes of two female physicians, one black and one white. I really loved the focus on medicine during this time, especially the women providing it and the women receiving it. I loved everything about the history of contraceptive health and how dangerous it was to practice it, use it, or even give information about it, which was completely illegal but still happened. I didn't expect the story to have as much mystery, but I really loved that angle. As it stands, at the end of this story, there are a couple of things still unfinished which makes me want to move onto the second book fairly quickly.

Audiobook Notes: The narration by Cassandra Campbell was wonderful, although my ear was drawn to several mispronounced words as I listened. To that end, I think it could have been edited more thoroughly. But I still loved every single minute of listening to it and would recommend it for other fans of #chunkster historical fiction.

Title: The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati
Series: The Gilded Hour #1
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 31 hours, 33 minutes, Unabridged
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc. ( )
  Asheley | May 9, 2020 |
Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to read The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati (aka Rosini Lippa). if I hadn’t accepted Where The Light Enters for review, unaware it was a sequel (thanks for the heads up Theresa). I’m glad I did however as I found myself immersed in the novel, reading it in a single day.

The Gilded Hour is largely a character driven novel. Beginning in 1883, set in New York City, the story features Dr. Lilianne ‘Anna’ Savard, a physician and surgeon, and her biracial cousin Dr. Sophie Savard, an obstetrician, supported by a large ensemble cast of family and friends, moving between their personal and professional lives.

The theme of family Is an important element of the novel. Anna and Sophie are part of an unconventional upper class household, presided over by ‘Aunt’ Quinlan, which also includes Quinlan’s widowed adult stepdaughter, long term staff, and which later adds three orphaned children, and a former nun. Anna can’t imagine having a family of her own, so to speak, until she meets, and falls in love with, Detective Sergeant Giancarlo (Jack) Mezzanotte, himself a member of an unconventional and large family. I really liked the romance in The Gilded Hour, there is chemistry from the moment Anna and Jake meet, and they complement each other well.

Donati explores several aspects of social history in The Gilded Hour, such as child welfare, immigration, domestic violence, religion, discrimination, and poverty against a vivid portrayal of New York City. In particular focus are issues related to women rights, or rather the lack thereof, in the late 1880’s. Anna and Sophie are two of a handful of female doctors, generally viewed with suspicion or dislike, by not only their male colleagues, but by society at large. They are both passionate about women’s health, especially reproductive rights (access to contraception and abortion), a huge risk in the era of Comstock’s vociferous ‘moral’ crusade, and in opposition to the socially accepted notion that women are of little value, other than as obedient wives and mothers.

Together Anna and Jack become involved in a investigation when they suspect that a doctor covertly offering abortions to wealthy married women is deliberately causing their painful deaths. I probably would have rated The Gilded Hour five stars except that this one major story thread was left unresolved. I felt it was unnecessary, and frustrating, to not conclude the case within the 700+ pages available.

Nevertheless, beautifully written, rich in historical detail and setting, with appealing characters, I enjoyed The Gilded Hour, and I’m looking forward to reading Where The Light Enters. ( )
  shelleyraec | Sep 18, 2019 |
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Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.
RICHARD WILBUR, 1921
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For my daughter, Elisabeth: best loved.
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Early on a March morning on the cusp of spring, Anna Savard came in from the garden to find a young woman with a message that would test her patience, disrupt her day, and send her off on an unexpected journey; a harbinger of change wearing the nursing habit of the Sisters of Charity, standing in the middle of the kitchen.
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The city was like a deck of cards well shuffled; any corner could reveal disaster or deliverance.
This time she met him halfway, her free hand curled into his lapel, her kiss open and warm and welcoming. A strong woman, fragile in his arms.
Anna's generosity was bred in the bone, but she lived a narrow life and was often unaware of many things in her immediate surroundings.
A physician had to keep some distance, but once in a while a simple story would catch her unawares, sliding like a needle through a crack in a thimble to embed itself deeply, without warning, in tender flesh.
"Things never quite turn out the way you imagine, do they," Miss Branson said, her voice low and almost amused in tone. "You have to pay attention to the moment in your hands, before it's gone."
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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.

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