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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Gilded Summers is a work of Gilded Age historical fiction penned by author Donna Russo Morin. At the turn of the twentieth century, class divides still pertain between the haves and have-nots of Newport, Rhode Island. The tale focuses on one household in particular, where two young women forge a bond across the divide and seek emancipation from the very different ties which bind them to their lives. Pearl is rich but feels empty, surrounded by false friends and lacking a passionate future. Ginevra works as a serving girl in the household after arriving from Italy but yearns for freedom of her own from the unpleasant attitudes of some of the family. Together, the girls meet in secret to plot out a future they can both enjoy.
Author Donna Russo Morin has a knack for both character and historical authenticity, making this journey into Newport’s Gilded Age a fascinating and fulfilling tale. From the well-described details of the surroundings and costumes to the social structures at play and the strictures of upper and lower class lives, Morin captures an era where women are ready to break out, but the world is not yet ready for them. Pearl and Ginevra have the same spirit for freedom and choice, but they are distinctly well presented and developed as very different women who complement one another’s misgivings. Gilded Summers is sure to suit fans of the likes of Downton Abbey, but it delivers far deeper emotional connections and realistic portrayals and is a highly recommended historical read.