I have long been obsessed with the Gilded Age, the time period and all of its literature, fashion and history. I was overjoyed when I found out HBO was giving us an entire period drama set in the Gilded Age - and am loving the show thus far. If you can’t get enough of The Gilded Age, here are five books, both fiction and nonfiction, to get into while we deal with the fact that the season has but two more episodes and then we will have to wait for season 2.
The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Of course every single book by Edith Wharton is on this list of must-reads about and from the Gilded Age. She was the Queen of Old Money vs. New Money tensions and did it all so well. The House of Mirth (1905), along with The Age of Innocence (1920) are amazing works of fiction, wild rides of social climbing and catty gossip, and whirlwinds of romance both acceptable and scandalous.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Written in 1899 The Awakening is a beautiful book, with gorgeous writing and a story that is tragic and telling at the same time. At the height of the Gilded Age, Chopin explores love, marriage, female desire, and social prestige along with motherhood, oppression and repression, and of course, money and power.
Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
Now for some non-fiction that is simply too wild to be true - a Gilded Age mystery of sorts. Why would a wealthy woman, raised in the Gilded Age, abandon three gorgeous Gilded Age mansions in her later years to live alone in a hospital room? This book has pictures, insights into the lives of the wealthy folks rubbing elbows with other wealthy folks in the Gilded Age, and some very interesting biographical moments of a great American fortune and it’s heiress we rarely hear about - because she did not want us to!
A Season of Splendor: The Court of Mrs. Astor in Gilded Age New York - by Greg King
And finally, fabulousness of fabulousness, a book on the great and powerful Mrs. Astor. This book has it all and ends with the sinking of the Titanic, a perfect time period work of history that transports you to and through The Gilded Age.
I would love to add more books to this list! Any suggestions? Tell us in the comments and happy reading!