Monday, June 25, 2018

Gilded Summers by Donna Russo

Gilded Summers. Donna Russo Martin. Creativia - Amazon Digital Services. Copyright June 2018. E-Book. 323 pp.; ASIN: B07BYTVSWJ.

Pearl is the daughter of wealthy parents in the world of the Astor and the Vanderbilt families.  Her father is kind, intelligent and artistically inclined.  Pearl’s first encounter with the art of Mary Cassatt changes Pearl’s vision of the future, inclining her to become an artist like the woman who has challenged the world of the Gilded Era.  Pearl’s mother is only interested in aspiring to be as well-loved, respected and inspired as the wealthy, surrounding neighbors who live in gilded castles filled with the finest paintings, architecture and furniture.  But she tries too hard and is scorned for her over-exertive efforts.  The reader is enthralled with this world but gradually grows to dislike the snooty airs and disdaining dialogue and gossip that fill the days of these women who could have done so much more with their influence.

Ginevra and her father are immigrants from Italy.  Her father has been hired by Pearl’s father to build elegant European furniture and create the best violins to play European classical music.  Ginevra is hired as a maid and eventually will rise to become Pearl’s lady’s maid.  However, Ginevra is embraced by Pearl and they gradually become best friends.  Ginevra is an extremely talented seamstress.  Together these two friends become confidants to handle the demands of their generation and social positions.  They then plan to become artists who will create their own houses of beautiful creations in art and fashion.

Both will fall in love with the same men which the reader will discover in unimaginable scenes of violence and lies.  The outcome is sheer stunning fiction!

What is most notable about this novel that glorifies and satirizes the well known Gilded Age of America focuses on the narrative voices of Pearl and Ginevra.  Their inner thoughts and external conversations are intimate and gradually revealing, including questions, dreams, visions and plans that flow seamlessly and naturally, with no sense of contrivance.  They alternate between mundane and revolutionary ideas, foreshadowing the future that will emerge to surpass the glory of the Gilded Age into an individual sense of worth and social responsibility.  They will become the foundations of new artistic perspectives.  They will literally change the world and the way persons perceive wealth, poverty, art and design!  They will become glorious rather than gilded!

This is remarkable historical fiction that this reviewer highly recommends.  Donna Russo Martin’s writing has evolved into something more meaningful, serious but joyfully engaging, and memorable in a creative, new style sure to endear readers of all ages!  Wonder-full!

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