If You Like….

As I was gathering up my pictures of the various settings in The English Wife to share with you, it occurred to me that it might be fun to do a bunch of If You Likes to cover the various places involved in the book.

So, since this is my Gilded Age book, it made sense to start out with Gilded Age New York. In subsequent weeks, I’ll move on to late Victorian London, Belle Epoque Paris, and the Hudson Valley.

But, for the moment, let’s pop back in time to Manhattan circa 1870-1910….

If you like books set in Gilded Age New York, you’ll probably like…

— Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. How could we not start with Wharton, the archetypal author of New York’s Gilded Age? Wharton takes us through Lily Bart’s desperate struggle to remain a member of the social set to which she was born, highlighting all the idiosyncrasies and hypocrisies of New York’s claustrophobic upper class.

— Jack Finney’s Time and Again. Who doesn’t dream of being able to step back in time? Maybe that’s why this book is such a perennial favorite: an exercise into what might happen if you could actually hop over into the New York of 1882, examining the past with modern (well, sort of modern– 1970) eyes.

— Sara Donati’s The Gilded Hour, the story of two female doctors, cousins, moving between the orphanages and ballrooms of 1880s New York.

— Caleb Carr’s The Alienist, an iconic thriller set in 1896 New York (the same time period as The English Wife), as Dr. Lazslo Kreizler, the “alienist”, attempts to find a serial killer.

— Louis Auchincloss’s East Side Story. This one is cheating a bit, because it begins before and stretches well past the Gilded Age– but it’s a deft and insightful look at New York’s elite and how they became what they are.

— Beverly Swerling’s City of Promise, which takes an intimate look at New York’s post-Civil War boom through the eyes of an entrepreneur who makes his fortune through pioneering apartment living and a young woman with a dodgy past.

— on the romance side of things, Joanna Shupe’s Knickerbocker Club books, Magnate, Tycoon, and Baron, all set in the bustle and boom of New York in the 1880s.

— on the mystery side, there’s Stefanie Pintoff’s Simon Ziele series, starting with In the Shadow of Gotham, about a detective solving crimes in 1905 New York.

— and then there’s The Forgotten Room, the novel I co-wrote with Karen White and Beatriz Williams. The book takes place in three time periods, starting off in the 1890s, as a young woman goes to work as a maid in an Upper East Side mansion. But what is her real relationship to the house and its inhabitants?

While I was writing this post, I stumbled upon an an earlier If You Like post I had written on the same topic. There are some overlaps, but not as many as you would expect! So you can check here for more recommendations….

Which are your favorite Gilded Age New York novels?

(I’ll be sharing some Gilded Age New York non-fiction books in the fall.)


  1. Margaret on July 18, 2017 at 10:04 am

    I loved The Gilded Hour and the Forgotten Room. And will take a look at your recommendations. Thanks!

  2. Linda Alkire on July 18, 2017 at 10:36 am

    The Age of Innocence, set in the 1870s. The book was amazing, and the movie with Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder equally so!

    I also loved the book you mentioned–Time and Again by Jack Finney! An all-time favorite!

  3. Connie Fischer on July 18, 2017 at 10:51 am

    “The Looking Glass Goddess” by Amanda Hughes

    “Fortune’s Daughters” by Consuelo Saah Baehr

    Joanna Shupe’s Knickerbocker Club Series:
    – “Tycoon”
    – “Magnate”
    – “Baron”
    – “Mogul”

    Alyssa Maxwell’s books:
    – “A Pinch of Poison”
    – “Murder at Rough Point”
    – “Murder Most Malicious”

    “The Hired Girl” by Laura Amy Schlitz

    “Tiffany Girl” by Deeanne Gist

    “The Pattern Artist” by Nancy Moser

    This is a small listing of books that I have, reviewed and love from the Gilded Age period. As you can see, it is a favorite period of mine.

  4. Anne Rouyer on July 18, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    – Don’t forget the Gaslight Mystery series by Victoria Thompson featuring a midwife and a New York City detective.

    – What the Dead Leave Behind by Rosemary Simpson. An heiress tries to solve her fiance’s death during the Great Blizzard of 1888.

    – And a I second everything on Lauren’s list – all of which I have read!

    – I also think that although technically they are not set in New York Alyssa Maxwell’s “Gilded Newport” mystery series is wonderful and features all the Great Gilded New York families.

    • Lauren on July 18, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks, Anne! I’ll have to add that last to my Newport “if you like” list.

  5. Dianna on July 18, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    Caleb Carr’s “The Alienist” is going to be a television series on TNT.

  6. Maureen on July 20, 2017 at 7:30 am

    I loved the Gilded hour and the Forgotten Room. I am currently reading an ARC of What the Dead leave behind by Rosemary Simpson. A gilded age mystery that takes place during the Great Blizzard of 1888 in New York city. Its a great read so far.

  7. Betty Strohecker on July 21, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    The second part of The Tea Rose moves the story from London to New York. This is an amazing book by Jennifer Donnelly – the first in a trilogy.

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