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The Gilded Hour

Written by: Sara Donati
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 31 hrs and 33 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The internationally best-selling author of Into the Wilderness makes her highly anticipated return with a remarkable epic about two female doctors in 19th-century New York and the transcendent power of courage and love.

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 antivice 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 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, emotionally gripping novel that proves Sara Donati is an author at the height of her powers.

©2015 Sara Donati (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very good plot, but reader a bit slow

Very good plot as usual for Sara Donati, but I assume the answer of the intrigue will be in the second book cause it's in not concluded at the end of this one. The reader is good for characters voices but she reads too slowly, really. But overall a good I had a good time listening !

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

too many loose ends

the story was great...until the end. way too many loose ends. I was really disappointed.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Karen Kelly
  • 2015-09-14

Slow and plodding. More textbook than novel.

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I made it about 23 chapters. There's a mystery of where some orphans ended up who were separated from each other. But, the story would take a turn where there would be a wedding and that became the focus forever in minute details, then another wedding, this and that.

The book starts out more like a novel that happens to teach you some history, but it's like the author couldn't keep that up and it became very apparent her mission was to educate. So there'd be info on contraceptives from that period and lengthy explanations about medical procedures used back then, and women's rights and orphans, and people of mixed races.

I cared about the characters, but the story just became so plodding and kept taking turns into other textbook subjects....ugh, I just couldn't make myself listen to another 20 chapters to find out, finally, what happened to the orphans.

The performer is perfect. If she wasn't so good, I wouldn't have made it this far.

What do you think your next listen will be?

I need something faster moving. Maybe a crime thriller to wake me up.

Which character – as performed by Cassandra Campbell – was your favorite?

Hmmm, I guess Jack, the love interest of the main female doctor. He's down-to-earth and practical and loveable.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Gilded Hour?

All of the lengthy descriptions of medical procedures. Anything where the writing becomes textbook teaching, instead of novel story-telling. I'd suggest the story sticks to the main focus of finding the orphans, keeping the reader engaged. There are just too many side stories that become the main focus for too long.

Any additional comments?

I like to learn history with historical fiction. But, I want the emphasis to be fiction, a good story. If I want to learn the technical procedures or laws for this and that, I'll pick up a textook.

41 of 45 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Annie M.
  • 2015-09-06

Historical romance, surgical implements too!

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Although I've never read a Sara Donati book, I see that she has quite a tidy list of previous novels. So it's probably safe to say that she and her publishers know what they are doing.

I am interested in how medicine was practiced back in the late 1800s, and this book served my curiosity well. First and foremost, this is a romance novel, with lots of randy scenes between the two main characters. Had this been the only draw, I'd have stopped my listen.

But this book is also a well-researched tome on women's role in medicine back in the Gilded Age. It also features forensic medicine, a la Kathy Reichs of "Bones" fame, at its brith. And there's more:
--it's an immigrant novel,
--it's a mixed race novel,
--it's a novel about prejudice, not just in terms of color, but in terms of country of origin, poverty, women, Catholics, Jews, cops, the wealthy, and, well...not much escapes.
--it's a novel about family and losing family,
--it's about the power of the church
--and, of course, the power of love.

What did you like best about this story?

I enjoy long books that give one a chance to deeply know the characters. Or, if the characters aren't all that well crafted, at least you get a good story. This is not a literary historical work, such as you might find with Kevin Baker's books about New York, but I found I enjoyed it a lot.

Which scene was your favorite?

I enjoyed the scenes having to do with the practice of medicine. In particular, I recall a very well-crafted scene of a surgeon demonstrating a gynecological procedure to a group of male medical students. Every aspect was clear--and horrifying; the patient's terror at the impending procedure, her shame at having her body so exposed to gaping eyes, the pomposity of the physician, who spouted the general thoughts of the day, that women had smaller brains, were not designed to do anything other than be mothers, were hysterical, and inferior in every way to men.

So glad to live in this day and age! Phew!

Was The Gilded Hour worth the listening time?

The listening time was one of the things I enjoyed most. A very long story, with lots of characters, various story lines that all intertwine.

58 of 66 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Erin Goltz
  • 2015-10-13

Straight Plot

The reader for thus audio book was very good. She performed accents well, and did good voices.

However, the story was not as exciting as billed by the editors. None of the plots were strong, and they were very linear. The romance was predictable and relatively uninteresting. The murder plot was also lackluster, although had potential. Unfortunately, if this book is the first in a series nothing was so compelling that I would read or listen to a second.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kathryn
  • 2016-12-03

Disappointing

This book is clearly well researched, and starts so promising. But the characterization is weak and the plot falls apart as soon as the romance starts. While we're told the main characters are strong, independent doctors, very little of that comes through once they fall in love. The side characters are flat, stereotyped, and lacking any depth.

About 10 hours in, the plot stagnates, and we get instead long, romantic, unrealistic conversations and monologues. Disappointing for such a promising beginning.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • deiskat
  • 2016-09-02

Disappointed in ending/lack of resolution to plot

I did enjoy this book, but I am disappointed that the author leaves open ends on the main story lines. I understand that there will be a sequel, but it's not currently released. I'm not sure if it's even been written.

After investing over 30 hours listening to this book I expected some sort of resolution at the end. I'm not sure that I'll read anything else by this author if this is her style. I didn't like the novel enough to reinvest another 30 hours of listening to refresh my memory/interest when she gets around to releasing the next book in the series.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • NMwritergal
  • 2017-12-28

Lots going on in this 30+ hr novel!

I'm with the other reviewer (Annie M) regarding this book on just about every point.

I, too, would have stopped reading if it had only been romance. I didn't realize it was going to be heavy on the romance. It was better than most, even the tastefully done sex scenes, but I could have done with less.

The medical stuff was really interesting, much of it quite technical.

I also enjoyed the unexpected murder mystery that appears about 20 hrs. into the book!

I was disappointed in Sophie's plot line. Many of the plot lines aren't really wrapped up so I'm thinking there will be another book?

What drove me crazy: Anna and Sophie constantly give a "low hum" in response to questions. What? I'm guessing a non-committal, "Mmmmmm." Anna's jaw is constantly dropping and then "clicking." And Anna always seems to "have the idea."

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kayla B
  • 2015-10-05

Storyline fell flat.

What made the experience of listening to The Gilded Hour the most enjoyable?

The narrator was great.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Underwhlemed

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I liked the underlying themes of the book.

Any additional comments?

The story line fell flat for towards the end. It seems that that author tried to include too many plots and ran out of time so some things felt unfinished.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Linda
  • 2015-10-18

Three major subplots left up in the air

Any additional comments?

In the many years I have been a member of Audible, I have never before felt compelled to write a review. In over 33 hours, the author of this book introduces and develops a number of major subplots, at three of which are left unresolved at the end. The topics were interesting and educational, but it seemed as if the author just ended the story when she got tired of writing. Even if this were Book 1 of a series, I would have been left incredulous.

15 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Ruby
  • 2018-04-27

Spoiler alert

None of the stories come to any kind of closing. Maybe an opening for a sequel? Waste of 30 hours.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Clint
  • 2015-10-18

Great glimpse at history of women

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely! Women have come so far and it is good to hear stories about the brave ones who have paved the way.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Gilded Hour?

I liked it when Anna, the main character, did not back down to the Catholic priest, who was condescending, rude and attempting to intimidate her.

Which character – as performed by Cassandra Campbell – was your favorite?

Anna

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This book made me want to listen when I should be sleeping!

11 of 14 people found this review helpful