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Gilded: How Newport Became America's Richest Resort

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  254 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
A beautifully written history of high society in Newport, Rhode Island, from the acclaimed author of Party of the CenturyNewport is the legendary and beautiful home of American aristocracy and the sheltered super-rich. Many of the country's most famous blueblood families?the closest thing we have to royalty?have lived and summered in Newport since the nineteenth century. T ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 1st 2011 by Wiley (first published September 18th 2009)
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Linda Lipko
Feb 27, 2012 Linda Lipko rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is the society that Edith Wharton so exquisitely portrayed in The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth.

This is a well researched accounting of the beginning of Newport, from a checkered past of rum running and slave trading through today and the famous New Port Jazz festival.

Deborah Davis takes us behind the scenes of the snobby Vanderbilt, Astor and Belmont newly rich, back stabbing, social climbing Americans who made Newport Rhode Island their vulgar playground with ostentatious multi-
Julie Barrett
Mar 22, 2016 Julie Barrett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gilded, How Newport became America's richest resort by Deborah Davis
Starts out with 1913 and the summer events of Newport. Very high social class and what was expected in the way of events, clothes where nothing was worn more than once, for the summer.
History as far back as the 1600's and the Indians who came to the island to summer in the cool breezes.
Low morals of the summer crowd and battles of the cottages were prevalent. Information about those who frequented the island and how they got the
Aug 22, 2014 Lorraine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the history of Newport.
Having been to Newport, reading the history starting with info. on the Native Americans I found fascinating. The cottages are unbelievable. I do not think that one could build something like the cottages today and not because of money. It is almost impossible to find people who do that kind of work today and do it well. That is the real shame. I have found it very difficult to find people to do specific work such as carpentry who do it well. Newport's location is truly lovely, an island surround ...more
Jan 06, 2010 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gilded: How Newport Became America's Richest Resort, by Deborah Davis provides a light, but interesting glimpse into how Newport, Rhode Island became the place to vacation. More than a seaside resort, Newport has a mesmerizing history as a Victorian Era getaway for the rich and famous.

The author Deborah Davis is a Rhode Island native who spent three summers conducting research and private interviews for this book. Some of the interesting people and facts covered in the book were:

* The Astors - M
May 30, 2010 Pooch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gilded is a captivating history of socially exclusive and elaborately developed Newport, Rhode Island, which--of course--only matters to those who care. Dating back to A.D. 1000 when Norse sailors visited the area and to the Native Americans who used it long before the ships landed, this non-fiction book reads like a very good novel. Think "Lives of the Richer & Famouser"! Outlandish extravagance well established by the Mrs. Caroline Astor set the mark for all the Vanderbilts, Oelrichs, and ...more
Lisa Mcbroom
Jun 10, 2016 Lisa Mcbroom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Davis never fails at at making one feel that they are with her on a ptio gossiping over a glass of wine. Here she takes on Newport America's Richest Resort. What a cast of characters! There is the Dowager that wears so much jewelry she has perfect posture. Then there is Tessie the high soceity matron that cleans her own house. Edith Jones who later becomes Edith Wharton and writes about Newport, From dog parties to the filming of The Great Gatsby in 1974 this book is a treasure!
Feb 24, 2016 Abby rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history
As someone who studies the Gilded Age, I was excited to meet some of my favorite characters again in this history of the famed Newport, RI. After a short back ground on the foundation and early years of Newport, author Deborah Davis introduces us to all the usual suspects: Alva Vanderbilt, Caroline Astor, Mamie Fish, ect. However,the book falls short when it moves out of the Gilded Age, past the 1940s when Newport and "high society" is in disrepair. After this point, there is not a Vanderbilt or ...more
Apr 07, 2016 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
LOVED this book! Which I stumbled across in the delightful Spring Street Bookshop in Newport without realizing it was by an author I've previously enjoyed. This history of Newport is gossipy and smart and made me even more excited to go back for my next visit.
Apr 27, 2016 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really informative without being too dry. Lots of fun stories that you don't hear from other sources.
From a girlhood enchantment with Newport, Davis' preoccupation developed into a book of breadth and range, covering the city from 1884 to the more current Jazz Festival and tourist oriented developments. The pull, of course, is the upper crust, the American Aristocrats and then simply the monied show-offs who wanted to play the game: cottages that were mansions, a simple life that was anything but, a summer rest that was so harried one needed a vacation to restore one's self after it. Still, the ...more
Dan Lalande

In her last chapter, author Deborah Davis likens her immersion into the history of Newport, Rhode Island to Dorothy's tenure in the Land of Oz - and indeed, Davis maintains the simple, wide-eyed tone of an agog adolescent throughout, whether she is reflecting on Newport's strategic role in the Revolutionary War, its years as the seat of American high society (the bulk of the book,) its cameo in the Camelot of the Kennedys, its on-off identity as a concert venue or its current role of tourist mec
Nov 17, 2013 Lesley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent history of Newport and how it became the playground of the wealthy. The most fascinating time period was the Vanderbilt's and Astor's era - fabulously wealthy, yet a strict societal code, particularly for women. The evolution of Newport after the Gilded Age, it's fall and rise again, is also noteworthy. The author gives a fascinating insight into Newport's major players in all eras - a must read for folks interested in the lifestyles of prominent Americans.
Bojana Duke
Interesting place, but this book doesn't do it justice. The book reads in a very disjointed way, never fully engaging you in any character, place or topic. It just jumps around from wealthy person to wealthy person and 'cottage' to 'cottage'. Perhaps it's a side effect of the author wanting to be completely factual and not having that much information. Regardless, it's not a satisfying read.
Jan 05, 2011 Lorri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this in preparation for visiting the Breakers and am glad I did! It offered an interesting look at the private lives of the wealthy Newport residence. I liked how it gave an overview of the most prominent residents rather than getting too deep into any one person. I wish the book would have had a few family trees to keep all those Vanderbilts and Astors straight.
Sep 23, 2012 Carole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enormously entertaining social history of Newport, Rhode Island, filled with interesting, gossipy tidbits. Despite the inevitable changes to 50 room “cottages” that once required staffs of 30 and housed Astors & Vanderbilts, Newport still is inhabited not only by tourists but by the super rich. Plus ça change, plus c’est le même chose.
Claire Rosplock
I really enjoyed learning about history of Newport, and esp. the mini segments on prominent Newport women (I wish there had been more of them!). While the book started out strong, the closer it got to modern day, the less I enjoyed it. Guess I'm a stickler for wanting books written about the history of a place to remain in the past.
I liked being brought back to the atmosphere of the 'old' days from Newport: the rich and their 'summer cottages', the parties they threw... Enjoyable read and yes, I want to go back to Newport and actually visit some of those houses in stead of gawping at them from the Cliff Walk Path!
May 10, 2010 DJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a nice overview of the posh Newport, Rhode Island estates and 'cottages'. The reading is easy and if you're looking for something light to take on vacation or read through on a weekend, this is it. I'm going to look for 'Strapless' now, one of Deborah Davis' other books.
Chris Karr
Aug 25, 2013 Chris Karr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A somewhat short and flitty history on the town of Newport and it's history mainly over the last 150 years. As someone who recently visited the town and was unaware of what it was famous for, this was a perfect read for me to wrap my head around the entire Gilded Age phenomenon.
Pam Johnson
This book is the complete opposite of the biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt I am currently reading. It is very shallow and only deals with high "society." I have to admit that I found it very entertaining, if light.
Jan 04, 2010 Kristen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a fun book to read. After spending some time in Newport, the only place where I have actually enjoyed driving around and looking at beautiful homes, it was interesting to learn the history of the town.
Jun 11, 2010 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting gossipy book about the rich and famous who made Newport rich and famous. If you are a fan of Newport you may have run into most of this material before. The book is a great summer read.
2011-Went to Newport last year around Christmas and found myself fascinated by it. This was a good read to learn both about the "cottages" and the society matrons who lived within their walls.
Nov 18, 2011 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the book because Newport, RI is one of my favorite places; however, even I got bogged down in some of the details. I think if one had never been to Newport, he would not enjoy this at all.
Jun 12, 2011 Lily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A light, entertaining read of the lifestyle and extravagances of super-wealthy socialite set in Newport as it rose, fell then rose again through the late 19th century to the modern day.
Liz Meyers
Apr 15, 2012 Liz Meyers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very entertaining. I wish the author would have elaborated more on each subject, but it was still a wonderful book to help understand who things truly were in Newport during the time.
Jul 19, 2010 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting, good read on the history of Newport RI. If you've ever visited the "cottages" there, you'll appreciate the behind the scenes stories from the beginning up to 2008.
Nov 29, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't have high expectations for this book when I first saw the size of the font. But it turned out to be full of anecdotes that truly captured the essence of Newport's wealthiest.
Jul 03, 2012 Rachael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such a fun and enlightening book! Filled with little anecdotes about all the people and places I grew up hearing about. I will never look at Newport the same way again.
Cris Martin
Jun 14, 2011 Cris Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating social history of Newport...I can't wait to visit Newport with this new info in my brain. Better go soon before it leaves me...
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