Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Gilded Years
by Karin Tanabe

Publisher: Washington Square Press
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon


Goodreads:  Since childhood, Anita Hemmings has longed to attend the country’s most exclusive school for women, Vassar College. Now, a bright, beautiful senior in the class of 1897, she is hiding a secret that would have banned her from admission: Anita is the only African-American student ever to attend Vassar. With her olive complexion and dark hair, this daughter of a janitor and descendant of slaves has successfully passed as white, but now finds herself rooming with Louise “Lottie” Taylor, the scion of one of New York’s most prominent families.

Though Anita has kept herself at a distance from her classmates, Lottie’s sphere of influence is inescapable, her energy irresistible, and the two become fast friends. Pulled into her elite world, Anita learns what it’s like to be treated as a wealthy, educated white woman—the person everyone believes her to be—and even finds herself in a heady romance with a moneyed Harvard student. It’s only when Lottie becomes infatuated with Anita’s brother, Frederick, whose skin is almost as light as his sister’s, that the situation becomes particularly perilous. And as Anita’s college graduation looms, those closest to her will be the ones to dangerously threaten her secret.


Kritters Thoughts:  What a piece of work!  A fictional tale about a woman who can pass as Caucasian but comes from a home with negro blood in her past and uses her situation to get the best education to hopefully further her place in life.  Anita tells a few lies because if she told the truth her merit wouldn't get her into Vassar because of the family she comes from.  

I loved this story.  I loved the exact glimpse that Karin Tanabe picks in Anita's life where it starts and where it ends.  Not to spoil, but I am glad that Tanabe takes the story beyond Anita's years at Vassar and shows the reader how her life ended up after her stint at Vassar was done.  I am so glad she included it in the story and didn't end it earlier.  

I don't always read the end notes, but I read this author's note about where the fiction started and the truth was and I appreciated being told where the fiction was in this fictional story.  I always know that when I read historical fiction there is fiction within it, but there is always some truth that lies underneath.


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel  
     (or just something else from this author!)

Ebook 2016 Challenge: 17 out of 50

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Atria Books.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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