Saturday, October 3, 2015
The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati
3.0 out of 5 stars -- Historical fiction set in 1880s New York features Anna Savard, physician and surgeon and a large cast of characters so extensive that a few pages at the beginning of the book are needed to list and describe them all.
First off, if I had known that this was apparently the start of a new series and that there would be many unresolved issues in the narrative, I would not have read it. At 791 pages, the length just seemed extreme and may explain why it took me forever to actually finish this one -- though I normally read other books with this many pages in a day or two. The level of detail and minutiae dealing with every aspect of Anna's life is partly the reason for the length, and much of it not relevant to the story line. If you enjoy that type of meandering, this would be the book for you.
The author sets up quite a few different subplots and relationships for Anna to deal with and some of them were more interesting than others. As a lover of all things medical, I was most interested in her medical practice and had hoped for more description of this. Instead, there is a romance and a lot of household drama. In addition, Anna (who has a whirlwind courtship) marries a police detective and becomes embroiled in the investigation for a serial killer -- but I'll say no more about that in this review to avoid spoilers.
I enjoy historical fiction and the synopsis of this appealed to me because of the main character being a female doctor and surgeon in a time when that was rare. I expected her to face prejudice and disrespect, but Anna falls to the level of typical romance novel heroine -- brilliant, strong, opinionated, beautiful, well off, independent, etc. as the love story took up more space than the mysteries. The plight of the poor, the orphans, the pregnant women who wanted birth control were mentioned as were many other social aspects of that time period but Anna was no real activist or crusader for change. Try as I might, I could not find much depth in Anna, nor in any of the other characters.
I'll have to think about picking up a sequel -- which I assume is coming since the novel just stops short rather than to finish off some of the stories.