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The Gilded Hour

(The Waverly Place Series #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  11,787 ratings  ·  1,720 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 741 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Berkley
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Popular Answered Questions
Sara Donati Hi Kathy -- I specifically wrote this novel so that it stands on its own. Really not necessary to read the previous series. Thanks for asking.
Liz Gladstone Right near the end she mentions the gilded hour, as Anna & Jack are sitting together in the twilight thinking back over what has happened.…moreRight near the end she mentions the gilded hour, as Anna & Jack are sitting together in the twilight thinking back over what has happened.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,787 ratings  ·  1,720 reviews

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Jason Schmidt
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who can read
I'll say first and foremost that I loved this book. I found the characters intoxicating and fascinating. Their voices are incredibly present, their motives flow from scene to scene; I always understood why they did things, and how those actions grew naturally out of who they were. It was great.

The plot follows the evolution of a family of upper-class(ish) women in 19th Century New York as they encounter, and are changed by, the lives teeming in the city around them. It's difficult to go into mu
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was ok

This story could have been stunning but in my opinion sadly, The Gilded Hour tries to tackle too many subjects. The book reads as though the author is trying impress the reader with all that she knows about 19th century New York City history. This novel would have been much more effective to have concentrated upon a couple of story lines and develop them solidly rather than flit around and laundry list everything that was going on in Society at the time. Most of the story lines I've read about n
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

I won this book in a GOODREADS GIVEAWAY.

I am so glad I won this book, otherwise I might not have ever seen it. This is the first book I have read from this author and I thought it was wonderful. It took me some time to read it, not because it was boring in the least, but because I read a lot of books at one time and this is a large book you want to take time with.

As you can read from the blurb the time is 1883 in New York City and you have the cousins Anna S
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you like historical fiction and need a great long saga ( complete with list of primary characters) to read by the fireplace this is a great choice. Set in New York City in the 1880's, this is the story of two women Anna and Sophie ( referred to here as being Mulatto) Savard, who are cousins and though unexpected for the time physicians. It's a time before Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The Brooklyn bridge is being built, and the city is full of dazzling splendor and abject poverty. T ...more
Cathrine ☯️
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.25★ Thoughts on The Gilded Hour

I love historical fiction. At over 700 pages with meticulous detail to multiple characters and story lines including the city of New York in 1883, a reader who isn’t such a fan might find this one hard to get through. It builds slowly. That said I really liked it. I include a link that gives a better overview to anyone who might be interested in learning more of its background, especially if you are familiar with the author’s Wilderness Series.

Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
3.5 stars

I found this historical novel, featuring female doctors in the 19th century, both enjoyable and frustrating; it will best suit readers who value immersion in characters’ lives over plot-driven narratives, and who don’t mind reading a long (732-page) novel only to have resolutions of major plot threads and mysteries deferred to the sequel. For those readers, the rewards include an extensively researched depiction of New York City in 1883, and a warmhearted story of a large and unusual fa
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
Oh, for CHRISSAKES, what did I just pay $12.99 for on Amazon? Based on the reviews, I was expecting a well-researched historical novel...instead, I got two ponderous romances accompanied by a one-note plot about women physicians in New York. They're women. Doctors. Women doctors. Did the author mention they were women doctors who went to medical school? Women. Abortions. Oh shit, a love story! Two love stories! Gasp! [Predictable sex scene that ends in shuddering simultaneous orgasms]. He touche ...more
Sep 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: audiobook
I wanted a book about two female doctors in the late 19th century. While there is that plot line there are also too many forays into sexual liaisons and other plot lines that bog down the book.

As soon as I read about a penis head smacking into a belly, I couldn't read anymore. I'm no prude but the author is no romance writer either.

Oh well.
B the BookAddict

I've made three serious attempts to write a review for this novel but just can't marshal my many thoughts into a definitive text. So, so much of this book is addictive reading, the characters strong and likable. I cannot wait to read the next part of the series and more about the Quinlans, the Savards and Jack, Rosa and Lia.

I'm sharing with you a review I think mirrors my experience of the book. It is by the writer Jason Schmidt. His review:
Susan E
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As a fan of Sara Donati's Wilderness novels, I've been looking forward to her newest book for a long time now. I was lucky enough to win an ARC of the book and was delighted to be reunited with the descendants of the Bonner family, now living in NYC in the 1880's.

One of my favorite aspects of The Gilded Hour was the level of detail in the author's historical research. I don't think I knew much about this period of time in New York history. The two main protagonists, Anna and Sophie Savard, were
Sep 29, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book needed an editor and a picture of Fabio on the cover.
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The year is 1883 and in New York City change is in the air. There is very little middle ground in this burgeoning metropolis. There are the glittering rich and the poorest of the poor.Both rich and poverty stricken are over the top in their respective roles.
But amid all this are women and to a lesser degree men, blazing a trail of independence and social change. Anna and Sophie Savard are two of these women. Cousins,both orphaned at an early age, raised by forward thinking family, they are tra
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
I received this book thanks to Goodreads Giveaways and the publishers.

I was excited to start in on this book because who doesn't love a good chunky Historical Fiction novel? It started out very well. I found the characters to be likeable and well developed, the writing was good, the story seemed interesting, and I appreciated the feminist stance that the author took in terms of opportunities for women and reproductive freedom. This book received very high ratings from other readers so I seem to
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an exceptional book that delves into so many interesting subjects.
In 1883, Anna Savard and her cousin Sophie Savard, both doctors, find themselves embroiled in a death investigation involving a woman who died as a result of a botched abortion. Anna, who had no interest in romantic relationships, finds herself strongly attracted to Jack Mezzanotte, a detective sergeant from the NYPD. As they further look into a young woman’s death, they get caught up in what appears to be a series of mur
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Reading The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati confirms to me why I love reading historical fiction! The almost 800 pages could be daunting for some but each page was read eagerly with anticipation as I became more invested in the characters' lives. The focus of this saga is the tale of two independent, clever, strong women in NYC in the 1880's. Donati explores the plight of women's issues, especial the poor, immigrants with regard to their medical concerns.
Donati clearly wrote this book with the plan t
Jun 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. I have loved all of her other books but found this one a little long. I think what I really disliked was the pacing.It took me a long time to get interested in the characters though once I did I truly liked them. Then the plot, which I really enjoyed, sped up in the middle of the book & then slowed way down at then end & then it ended abruptly. While reading it I had no idea that it was going to have a sequel so I was annoyed that a couple of main charact ...more
RoseMary Achey
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was totally engrossed in this terrific novel about two women doctors and their extended family in post civil war New York City. The characters are very likable and well developed. There are several subplots that keep the reader engaged.

The only reason I did not give this book five stars is the narrative around the romance. As one reviewer described "It was superfluous"- So true. The book stood just fine without the cheesy corset ripping or chemise lifting sex. I also wished author Donati woul
Sep 16, 2015 rated it liked it
I am perplexed by this book. It was full of interesting characters and an unusual story line (although, while I am pro choice I became weary of all the detail) but the reader feels like she came in in the middle and then it came to a surprising stop at the end. It was 2 am and I was reading an electronic version from the library so did not have the expectation one has with a real book at nearing the conclusion. I was very surprised and wondered if I was so tired I had missed key resolution. But ...more
Sep 05, 2015 added it
Shelves: abandoned
No rating. The style and flow is such that I have difficulty in following the characters or the storyline. Continuity is off, IMHO, and coupled with the subject matter and era placement, I'm just not at all connecting nor becoming interested. Way too many words to say way too little for me to want to attempt further engagement. It could be a good book, but definitely not for me. There are some pages I read 2 times and still don't understand their context. I tried this author before and had conne ...more
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have adored Sara Donati (aka Rosina Lippi) since the day I opened the first book in her Wilderness series so when I saw that this book was coming, it was an automatic read for me. I have to preface this review by saying that she would have to write a pretty awful book for me to dislike it and I might be a little biased by love of her previous work.

This book plops you down right into the middle of the lives of two women at its center, as well as all the wonderful supporting cast around them. A
I was prepared to give this book 5 stars until the author wrapped up the book without resolving major plot points. I enjoyed the subject matter and many of the characters although some of them were very underdeveloped. However, if I am going to commit myself to a 700+ page novel, I really do not want to feel short-changed at the end of it and that's exactly what I felt as this book wound down. The reader gets absolutely no resolution to really ANYTHING. I can only conclude that this means that t ...more
nikkia neil
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
This book will seem very long and drawn out to some people, but I like these types of historical fiction where you get to know all the people very well. Fascinating history of female doctors and what they were thru. We don't think about how good we have it now a days.
Lisa Zetes
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book although it was over 700 pages and I thought I would never finish. Had to finish today. Happy New Year 2020
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Gilded Hour is latest (and launch of a new series) by historical fiction writer Sara Donati. Having loved her Wilderness series, I jumped at the chance to read her latest that features the ancestors of the fictional Bonner family introduced in Donati’s Wilderness. It is one of my most anticipated reads of the fall. Here, the setting in 1883 New York and focuses on two cousins, Drs. Anna Savard and Sophie Savard. Both these young doctors face trials, both personally and professionally, and th ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
"The Gilded Hour" is a new historical fiction offering from Sara Donati, author of the "Wilderness" series, which I would now really like to read. In this book, she takes us to 1880s New York and into the lives of Anna and Sophie Savard. Anna is a physician and so is Sophie, but she is also a "free woman of color," which adds another layer of complexity to her life. This book has a lot of intrigue and weaves an intimate picture of some fascinating characters.

The story focuses on the women as th
Oct 14, 2015 rated it did not like it
I was excited to get this book and I pushed through half of it hoping at some point it would hold my interest. It never did. Sara Donati played heavily on stereotypes ad nauseam. The problem is, these stereotypes were not as deep set that century as they are now. The author wrote 18th century characters with 21st century mindsets which is blasphemy to me in a period piece...this is exactly where the authenticity of the period is lost and where she inevitably lost me.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jeanie

The Gilded Hour
By Sara Donati
ISBN: 9780425271810
Author Website:,
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie


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 Woma
Heather Alderman
Wow, I loved this book! Sara Donati has been recommended to me for years, but I just never got around to reading her books. So, when a friend handed me this large tome about "females doctors in late 1800s New York," it did not sound very appealing, but I loved the storylines, the characters, the romance, the mystery, the family relationships, the descriptions of NYC in 1883, etc... My only complaint is that I had no idea it was the start of a series until I had about 5 pages left of this 747 pag ...more
Brooke Waite
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2106-favorites
Such a GREAT historical read!!!! This book is a behemoth at over 700 pages so I took my time delving into it! The characters are wonderful and with so many pages dedicated to personality and emotion and laying out each characters history they really came alive to me! The story is even more richly woven due to the intricacies of this period in time. New York, 1883, when much is happening socially, economically and historically.

It's about 2 decades after the end of the Civil War, the Brooklyn Bri
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I often break my reviews down into a few of the things that matter most to me: story, dialogue, descriptive finesse, and character development, but I can’t do that with this one or it might be a lower rating. As a whole, this was 4 stars for me because it was a very enjoyable read (even though there were things that prickled me.)

I liked the overall feel of this and I think that is largely because of the characters. I liked them. They were endearing. The author created them with so much attention
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There's a new novel coming out September 10,: Where the Light Enters. More about the novel here. or on Sara's FaceBook page.

Sara Donati is the pen name of Rosina Lippi, also here on Goodreads because she writes too. All book reviews you'll find under Rosina's name.

Other books in the series

The Waverly Place Series (2 books)
  • Where the Light Enters

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