Friday, July 6, 2018

Donna Russo Morin's Gilded Summers - #Review

My thoughts
I love historical fiction because it speaks of bygone eras and social norms we find unfathomable today. Gilded Summers perfectly illustrates the lives of women in the 19th century and how little rights they had at the time. Even more enlightening is the idea that women of privilege had even fewer rights because of the strict social constraints of their set.

Pearl, born into a life of privilege, and a card carrying member of the Newport elite, does the unthinkable by befriending her lady's maid. Pearl and Ginevra become fast friends, as they both share dreams of a different life from what they are destined for, and what is expected.  Pearl soon learns of the scandal and undesirable behavior behind the scenes of the privileged set. Ginevra learns that a kind word or gesture from those in high society often leads to much more menacing behavior underneath. These revelations culminate in a shocking denouement.

I have long been a fan of this author. She knows how to vibrantly tell a historical story while still staying true to the historical side of things. Her passion for the Newport area shines through in her words. Gilded Summers is an insightful glimpse into an age and place where women, even women of power, were merely objects and ornamentation. It is also an inspiring story of two women who chose to buck convention and live lives of their choosing; women who pioneered the way for the women of future generations.

A Novel of Newport’s Gilded Age

Pearl and Ginevra grow up in the era known as the Gilded Age in Newport, Rhode Island. One lives above the stairs, the other below.

Surrounded by Astors and Vanderbilts, Pearl fills her days with teatime and shallow friendships, yearning for something more. A chance meeting with Mary Cassatt sparks her secret desire to be an artist. Meanwhile Ginevra, fresh off the boat from Italy, finds her own dreams out of reach as she joins the unwelcoming household as a servant and seamstress.

Kindred souls, the girls become fast friends but must keep their friendship hidden from Pearl’s controlling mother. Every summer, they meet in a hidden spot beneath the weeping beeches to talk of art and life, and their struggles to break the barriers of their lives.

Soon, the two young women must decide who they want to be in this world, and survive what it takes to get there…even if it includes murder.

"Gilded Summers by Donna Russo Morin is a lush and evocative novel of the distinctive period known as Newport’s Gilded Age, a period brought vibrantly to life in this powerful work. Ginevra and Pearl, unique in their own way yet equally sympathetic, are captivating from the start and never let go. The passages and chapters are exquisitely and uniquely intertwined, like the young lives of its characters, sewn seamlessly with the mounting mystery and suspense. Vivid descriptions evoke the setting and period with such mastery, one feels like a ‘fly on the wall,’ living there with these young women who are so well crafted and developed. A genuine ‘can’t put it down’ novel, a triumph by a masterful writer!"
-Anne Girard (Diane Haegar) author of Madame Picasso

"A wonderful peek at the Gilded Age of Newport, RI, filled with the Astors and Vanderbilts and a bit of mystery. 4 Stars!"
-Barbara Khan, Baer Books Blog

AVAILABLE NOW in print, ebook, and audio formats.

About the author
Donna Russo Morin is an award-winning historical fiction author. Donna has dabbled as a model and actor, working on Showtime's Brotherhood and Martin Scorsese's The Departed. Branching out with her storytelling skills, Donna is now a screenwriter. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, Donna lives on the south shore of Rhode Island close to the ocean she loves so very much. She is the proud mother of two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.

Visit her website at
Friend her at, and follow her on Twitter at @DonnaRussoMorin.

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1 comment:

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  1. I haven't read as many historical fiction novels as I'd like. This one looks really fantastic. I'll have to check it out!

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