'Enticing ... As Anita is drawn into Lottie's elite world, her secret roars beneath everything, threatening every step she takes.'
'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.'
'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.'
'[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.'
'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.'
'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 us the impossible choices that one woman was forced to make when she decided to follow her dream for a better life. As with many courageous acts, controversy follows our heroine, and for that reason alone book clubs will find much to discuss here. An utterly captivating narrative that kept me turning pages late into the night.'
– Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of THE KITCHEN HOUSE
– Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House
'Brilliant, beautiful, and kind, Anita Hemmings should be a perfect fit for Vassar College. But it’s 1897, and while Anita appears to be Caucasian, her school would be scandalised if it knew her secret. In a story at once heartbreaking and uplifting, Karin Tanabe limns the tensions of a young woman’s desire to participate fully in a world in which she doesn’t dare reveal her full self,the myopia of a society twisted by soul-straitening rules, and the wonders – and frustrations – of the highest rung of women’s education at the turn of the last century. Most impressive are the characters' emotional complexity; Tanabe understands that human relations are never so simple as black and white.'
– Christina Schwarz, #1 New York Times bestselling author
'The Gilded Years tells the compelling story of Anita Hemmings, a woman who defied the expectations and limitation of her world to follow her mind and her heart. Karin Tanabe weaves a tale rich with historical detail and heartbreaking human emotion that demonstrate the complex and unjust choices facing a woman of color in 19th century America. That so many of the questions explored by Tanabe about race, gender, ambition and privilege still resonate today makes this novel required reading.'
– Tara Conklin, New York Times bestselling author of The House Girl
'Tanabe has written a moving portrait of a fascinating and complicated woman who crossed the color line when the stakes were high. This richly imagined novel about a woman of brilliance and fierce self-creation is sure to captivate readers as it did me.'
– Heidi W. Durrow, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
'The Gilded Years is a thrilling and foreboding tale about social and racial rules in nineteenth century America. Anita Hemmings begins her senior year at Vassar in 1896, the year that the Plessy doctrine of separate but equal became the law of the land. She is at the top of her class, speaks five languages, and is the class beauty. One rumor away from disaster, Anita lives with a secret that could get her thrown out of Vassar, injure her family, and destroy her academic future. Tanabe’s narration is reminiscent of novels of the 1890s, with dialogue that is spot on for that era. The compelling story covers a shameful time in American history, and is unrelenting in its tension and gripping detail.'
– Anna Jean Mayhew, Author of The Dry Grass of August
'The true story of Anita Hemmings, Vassar College’s first African-American graduate, comes to life in vivid detail in Tanabe’s The Gilded Years. Hemmings’ gut-wrenching decision to pass as white in order to obtain an education is a poignant journey and Tanabe’s lyrical style is sure to keep readers turning pages.'
– Renee Rosen, author of White Collar Girl
'The Gilded Years really brought home the horrific limitations and choices that were faced by Black people post-Civil War, even in the supposedly more enlightened North. The characters were vivid and compelling, and it was heartbreaking to witness the terrible lie Anita was forced into to achieve her dream of a Vassar education. That the story is based on true people only added to its richness.'
– Laila Ibrahim, author of The Yellow Crocuses
‘The beautiful and the damned takes on a whole new meaning … Karin Tanabe’s novel is 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