The Gilded Years
A captivating historical novel based on the true story of Anita Hemmings, the first Black student to attend the prestigious Vassar College by - passing as white. For fans of The Vanishing Half and The Gilded Age.
SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
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, she has successfully passed as white, but now finds herself rooming with Lottie Taylor, an heiress 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 well-off Harvard student. But when Lottie becomes curious about Anita's family the situation becomes particularly perilous, and as Anita's graduation looms, those closest to her will be the ones to dangerously threaten her secret.
Set against the vibrant backdrop of the Gilded Age, an era when old money traditions collided with modern ideas, The Gilded Years is a story of hope, sacrifice and betrayal - and a gripping account of how one woman dared to risk everything for the chance at a better life.
'Smart and thoughtful ... A must-read' PopSugar
'Insightfully grapples with complex and compelling issues' Booklist
'The beautiful and the damned takes on a whole new meaning ... A poignant imagining inside the most complex survival phenomenon: passing. With the grandeur of the Gilded Age intertwined with romance and suspense, you won't be able to put this period piece down until you know how her story ends.' Vanity Fair
Review: 'Enticing ... As Anita is drawn into Lottie's elite world, her secret roars beneath everything, threatening every step she takes.' • Bustle •
'Tanabe's thought-provoking novel raises challenging questions about how race, gender, and class advance and limit opportunities. There is plenty of material here for book group discussions.' • Library Journal (starred review) •
'Tanabe immerses the reader in a world of romance and manners, but also leaves you gripping the edge of your seat ... An elegant and extremely gratifying imagining of one remarkable woman's life.' • USA Today •
'Anita is the first African American to attend Vassar College - and, because of her light skin, no one knows. That is, until her roommate, a scion of an NYC family, jeopardises her secret - and degree. Karin Tanabe based her 1897-set story on real events.' • Us Weekly •
'Based on the true story of the first African-American woman to ever go to Vassar College. The catch? No one knew she was African-American. After befriending the school's Serena van der Woodsen, she has to work even harder at keeping her secret. Think: ''''Gatsby'''' meets college meets an impressive beach read.' • The Skimm •
'Tanabe smoothly blends history, race and class into a whip-smart novel [with a] vividly complex heroine.' • Essence •
'This fictionalized take on Hemmings's real-life story animates her struggle to straddle two worlds, each with its own separate definition of freedom.' • Good Housekeeping •
'Elegant and whip-smart ... Tanabe's irresistible narrative is a brilliant tale between two worlds, and one of the most effective stories you'll read this summer.' • NY1 •
'[The Gilded Years] is trademark Tanabe: a juicy plot, charming writing, shrewd observations. But here, there are also shades of Edith Wharton...This story of race and class is compelling and wise.' • Toronto Star •
'In Anita's captivating story, heightened by richly drawn characters, Tanabe insightfully grapples with complex and compelling issues.' • Booklist •
'This charming, thoughtful, and affecting book tells the story of the first black woman to attend Vassar. That she attended as a white woman, passing and always at risk of exposure, drives the plot and allows Tanabe to tell a rich, complicated story about race, gender, education, love, and belonging in the Gilded Age.' • Book Riot •
'This engaging novel, set in a time of conflict between old money and new ideas, captures both the bravery and the heartbreak of Anita's decision ... the story is a captivating one. Readers won't soon forget Anita Hemmings or the choices she made.' • BookPage •
'Tanabe artfully creates dynamic characters whom you find yourself missing the moment the book ends.' • DC Refined •
'This engrossing work of historical fiction follows a powerful woman who would risk everything for an education.' • Washington Life •
'In this gripping, tension-filled story, Karin Tanabe reveals to