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review 2018-02-10 21:32
Real History in Fictional Form (The Gilded Years)
The Gilded Years: A Novel - Karin Tanabe

 

The true story in fictional form of Anita Hemmings, a black woman who graduated from Vassar in 1897, a full half century before Vassar officially allowed black women to attend. While this is mostly just an interesting story about the Gilded Age, women's education and race, it does best when race is confronted and lays bare the huge change some people suddenly see in people, just because they now know more about someone's racial background.

 

The book is preoccupied with describing Vassar, New York society of that era, mannerisms, and even some unrealistic frivolous romantic interludes for the majority of pages. It's a good way to show the change in behavior once the climax occurs, but it made the book less effective overall.

 

The high point starts with Anita's best friend and roommate (Lotty Taylor, a fictional name) finding out that Anita is black. The vitriolic hate spewed at a woman who had not changed one bit is terrifying and upsetting. Lotty feels that Anita's race is something Anita "did to her." That she's ruined the roommate's life by being black. When Anita finally tries to speak to the roommate's "modernity," Lotty spits, "Separate but Equal. Not equal and in my parlour." Where she had previously loved and doted on Anita, now:

 

"I see the negro in you. It's all I can see...I look at you and a dirty,

ugly, lying colored face looks back at me."

 

When Anita's whole college education is at risk, she says, "I was never asked whether I was a negro, so I never addressed it. If I had been asked, I would not have lied." This is something the white world doesn't grasp often. The default is white, so if one looks more white than black, you may get asked "what are you?" in 2018, but not in the polite society of 1897. Nobody ever questioned her race. Why would they? She was in the top of her class at Vassar year after year. But when the head of the college calls her in, "She watched him looking at her, plainly searching for negroid features."

 

Vassar pulled the ultimate CYA by graduating Anita (as white,) demanding she not speak of it, pulling all of her post-grad opportunities, and then in the real world not admitting an openly black woman until 1944. Meanwhile, Anita's own daughter had graduated from Vassar in the 1920s, so clearly they were fine with black women who could pass as white, just not black women who looked black. Even the first three women who graduated in the 1940s are all extremely light-skinned.

 

Even if you never plan to read this book, Anita Hemmings is an interesting person. Her great-granddaughter, Jillian Sim, wrote an article about tracing her family called for the American Spectator: "Fading to White". Monticello family tree research indicate that this Hemmings family is related to the Elizabeth Hemings family, which is also Sally Hemings' branch. An interview with Jillian Sim includes a photo of her holding photos Anita and her brother Frederick John Hemmings (who graduated MIT -- admitted as a black student -- the same year she graduated from Vassar.)

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text 2017-07-29 03:48
Friday Reads
The Diplomat's Daughter: A Novel - Karin Tanabe
The Address: A Novel - Fiona Davis

About an hour ago I finished Where The Light Falls by Allison and Owen Pataki. It was an emotional 4 star read. Not what I'm accustomed to, but well with it! I will start The Diplomat's Daughter by Karin Tanabe tonight. I absolutely loved The Gilded Years. I'm excited to get to The Address by Fiona Davis and hope it lives up to all the hype. A weekend filled with historical fiction is a great one indeed.

 

 

What are you reading this weekend?

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text 2017-07-12 21:01
Exciting July Releases That Are On My TBR
A Paris All Your Own: Bestselling Women Writers on the City of Light - Eleanor Brown
A Name Unknown (Shadows Over England) - Roseanna M. White
The Diplomat's Daughter: A Novel - Karin Tanabe
Where the Light Falls: A Novel of the French Revolution - Owen Pataki,Allison Pataki
Seducing Abby Rhodes - J.D. Mason
Edward VII: The Prince of Wales and the Women He Loved - Catharine Arnold
The One I've Waited For (The Crystal Series) - Mary B. Morrison
The Cartel 7: Illuminati: Roundtable of Bosses - Ashley and JaQuavis,JaQuavis Coleman
The Truth We Bury: A Novel - Barbara Taylor Sissel

I finished only one book in June. I was quite shocked. I've started many and am hopeful that July will be a better month for reading. I've been out of sorts personally and physically. However, this list of books are right up my street and I'm sure are going to be awesome reads. I'm revisiting favorite authors and genres.

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text 2016-06-15 21:16
Exciting June Releases
Don't You Cry - Mary Kubica
The Gilded Years: A Novel - Karin Tanabe
I Almost Forgot About You - Terry McMillan
The Girl from The Savoy: A Novel - Hazel Gaynor
The Edge of the Fall: A Novel (Storms of War Trilogy) - Kate Williams
The Girls in the Garden: A Novel - Lisa Jewell
The Girls: A Novel - Emma Cline
Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Gray: A Novel - Dorothy Love
Love in Exile - Ayşe Kulin,Kenneth Dakan
The Girl and the Sunbird: A beautiful, epic story of love, loss and hope - Rebecca Stonehill

These are the June releases that I'm most excited to read. I'm hoping I can get to all of them or most of them.  There are thrillers, historical and romance to chose from, my favorites. Are you excited for any of these reads?

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review 2016-02-07 22:32
My Review of The Price of Inheritance
The Price of Inheritance - Karin Tanabe

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. The Price of Inheritance was a very well written book and the characters were well fleshed out, but there were too many useless details that made the story too long and drawn out. I became bored with this book and wanted to stop reading it, but I read it just to see if anything substantial happened. Nothing exciting ever happened and I feel that it was a waste of my time. If you're into valuable antiques, then this book is for you. I give this book two stars just because it was well written.

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