The Gilded Years
The publisher calls this Passing meets The House of Mirth. Tanabe's new historical novel is based on the fascinating true story of Anita Hemmings, the first black women to graduate from Vassar College, who passed as white to gain admittance. Set in turn-of-the-century New York, Anita's life becomes a lot more exciting—and a lot more dangerous—when her new assigned roommate belongs to one of New York City's most prominent families, and drags Anita into a new and glamorous world. But nothing means more to Anita than Vassar: she must keep her secret or she'll be expelled. As she desperately tries to straddle two worlds, she edges ever closer to losing not only her education, but the people she loves most. Publication date June 7 2016.
SOON TO BE ADAPTED FOR FILM in A White Lie, a major motion picture, starring and produced by Zendaya in collaboration with Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine.
“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
“Think: ‘Gatsby’ meets college meets an impressive beach read.” —theSkimm
An Us Weekly “Sizzling Summer Read” * A Time Magazine Summer Read
Since childhood, Anita Hemmings has longed to attend the country’s most exclusive school for women, Vassar College. Now, a bright, beautiful senior in the class of 1897, she is hiding a secret that would have banned her from admission: Anita is the only African-American student ever to attend Vassar. With her olive complexion and dark hair, this daughter of a janitor and descendant of slaves has successfully passed as white, but now finds herself rooming with Louise “Lottie” Taylor, the scion of one of New York’s most prominent families.
Though Anita has kept herself at a distance from her classmates, Lottie’s sphere of influence is inescapable, her energy irresistible, and the two become fast friends. Pulled into her elite world, Anita learns what it’s like to be treated as a wealthy, educated white woman—the person everyone believes her to be—and even finds herself in a heady romance with a moneyed Harvard student. It’s only when Lottie becomes infatuated with Anita’s brother, Frederick, whose skin is almost as light as his sister’s, that the situation becomes particularly perilous. And as Anita’s college graduation looms, those closest to her will be the ones to dangerously threaten her secret.
Set against the vibrant backdrop of the Gilded Age, an era when old money traditions collided with modern ideas, Tanabe has written an unputdownable and emotionally compelling story of hope, sacrifice, and betrayal—and a gripping account of how one woman dared to risk everything for the chance at a better life.