Books·Posted on Mar 25, 202216 Books To Read While You Wait For Season 2 Of HBO's "The Gilded Age"If you can't wait to see what becomes of the Russells and the van Rhijns in Season 2, here are some books about the real-life Gilded Age to tide you over.by David VogelBuzzFeed ContributorFacebookPinterestTwitterMailLink HBO Julian Fellowes' follow-up to critically acclaimed Downton Abbey has already been renewed for a second season on HBO and HBOMax. Starring a host of stars from stage and screen, the show mixes real-life personalities who dominated the Gilded Age (1870 to the turn of the 20th century), as well as fictional characters based on real people. While we wait for the second season, here's some reading inspired by the series to keep you educated and enthralled. 1. A Season of Splendor: The Court of Mrs. Astor in Gilded Age New York by Greg King Wiley In Gilded Age New York City, everything began and ended with Mrs. Astor (played on TV by Donna Murphy), who could make or break a career in high society. Greg King's book gives a detailed and comprehensive overview of Gilded Age society, for those wishing to delve deeper. He includes all the major players of the day, while firmly centering Mrs. Caroline Astor as the grande dame of it all, serving as the gatekeeper who upheld and strictly enforced the rules of the Gilded Age. Get it from Bookshop or through your local bookstore via Indiebound. 2. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton Simon & Schuster No one chronicled the Gilded Age in fiction more brilliantly than Edith Wharton. Born into New York high society and becoming the first woman to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, her name remains synonymous with this historical period. Foremost among her most popular works is The Age of Innocence, which centers around Newland Archer, whose engagement to May Welland is upended when nonconformist Countess Ellen Olenska suddenly returns to New York. The novel centers on themes of betrayal, desire, and the price paid when one breaks the rules of this closely held social system. The writing is restrained and elegant, lingering in your memory long after you finish reading.Get it from Bookshop or through your local bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 3. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton Simon & Schuster It would have been a mistake if I only included one Wharton novel on this list. While The Age of Innocence remains the most famous, The House of Mirth was my first and remains my favorite of her fiction. Lily Bart is an unforgettable protagonist who is both endearingly charismatic and deeply flawed. Her singular goal in life is to find a rich husband so she can continue living the extravagant lifestyle she's accustomed to. Wharton is at her most scathing here as a social satirist, gleefully eviscerating Gilded Age high society with her perceptive and hilarious insights. And the ending remains as shocking as it did when this book was originally published in 1905. Get it from Bookshop or through your local bookstore via Indiebound. 4. Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City by Carla E. Peterson Yale University Press The producers of The Gilded Age smartly made sure African American characters in the show were not represented solely as servants or former slaves. In introducing Peggy Scott (played by Denée Benton) and her family, we meet the Black Elite of Brooklyn. There is no better introduction to the history of the African American Elite in Gilded Age New York than Carla L. Peterson's Black Gotham. Engagingly written, Peterson uses her journey to discover the history of her 19th-century relatives as a framework to explore the Black Elite and debunk many commonly held myths about post-Civil War America. This is an essential history text to help anyone expand their knowledge of the Gilded Age.Get it from Bookshop or through your local bookstore via Indiebound. 5. The Great Mistake by Jonathan Lee Penguin Random House Andrew Haswell Green is the man responsible for many of the famous sights in today's New York City, such as Central Park, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Natural History, and The New York Public Library. In 1903, at age 83, he was shot and killed, igniting an investigation to discover what really happened. In this novelization of his life, Jonathan Lee explores both his personal life as a closeted gay man and the circumstances surrounding his death. The Great Mistake is the portrait of a life that influenced the city forever, rendered compellingly and compassionately. Get it from Bookshop or through your local bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 6. Diamonds and Deadlines: A Tale of Greed, Deceit, and A Female Tycoon in the Gilded Age by Betsy Prioleau Abrams Books Men often get the credit for driving the world of business during the Gilded Age. In Diamonds and Deadlines, Betsy Prioleau introduces us to an influential, if lesser known figure, Mrs. Frank Leslie, the "empress of journalism" who ran Frank Leslie Publishing (the largest publishing company in the US at the time) for 20 years. Not notable solely for her business acumen, Mrs. Leslie was also notorious for flaunting societal convention with abandon, creating as much scandal in her personal life as she did acclaim in her business dealings. Get it from Bookshop or through your local bookstore via Indiebound. 7. The Girl on the Velvet Swing: Sex, Murder, and Madness at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century by Simon Baatz Hachette Stanford White is featured on The Gilded Age (played by John Sanders) as one of the most famous architects in New York City. Fast-forward a few years, and his professional achievements would be overshadowed by the "Crime of the Century." His assault of underage actor Evelyn Nesbit would remain hidden for years until she told her husband Harry Thaw, who shot and killed Stanford White in 1906, igniting a scandal that shocked the nation. Fans of sociological histories and true crime will love Baatz's riveting account of this story that forever changed the way crime is covered in the media. Get it from Bookshop or through your local bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 8. Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe Harper Collins Vanderbilt was a name synonymous with wealth and prosperity at the turn of the century. (Even if they're derided as "new money" by Mrs. van Rhijn on The Gilded Age.) Cornelius Vanderbilt, born the son of a ferryman, worked his way up to becoming one of the richest men in the world during the Gilded Age. Anderson Cooper, his great-great-great-grandson, recently co-authored this entertaining history of how it all went down and its influence on the lives and legacies of their family. From the beginning of the Vanderbilt empire to its ignominious decline, read about it all from someone who has a direct connection and the inside scoop. Get it from Bookshop or through your local bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 9. A Well Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler Macmillian Publishers Alva Smith married into the Vanderbilt dynasty to ensure her future. Although she was never accepted by Gilded Age high society, she managed to make an impact in her own way through patience and persistence. Therese Anne Fowler, author of the excellent Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, brings to life another lesser known woman who never received the credit she deserved. This electrifying novel brings to life Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont and her contributions as a philanthropist, a mother, and a woman ahead of her time (much like The Gilded Age's fictional Bertha Russell, played by Carrie Coon).Get it from Bookshop or through your local bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 10. When Brooklyn Was Queer by Hugh Ryan Macmillan Publishers For anyone wondering if the gay characters in The Gilded Age have any historical precedent, look no further than Hugh Ryan's history of Brooklyn as a queer haven. Many think that gay culture only thrived post-Stonewall, but Ryan is here to let the record show that's not the case. Starting with Walt Whitman in the 1840s through the mid-20th century, he takes us through Brooklyn's diverse, inclusive, and thriving queer scene. A fascinating look at history long hidden from the public eye. Get it from Bookshop or through your local bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 11. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James Penguin Random House Henry James, like Edith Wharton, remains an author whose fiction is forever associated with the Gilded Age. In The Portrait of a Lady, he created an unforgettable heroine in Isabel Archer. Strong willed, independent, and perpetually sure of what she wants, Archer shows agency unique for a female heroine at the time. But James is quick to caution readers that all decisions come with consequences. When Isabel willfully turns down two eligible suitors, the man she finally chooses reveals himself to be far from ideal. James is eternally perceptive, weaving this cautionary tale with a deft hand and language meant to be savored. Get it from Bookshop or through your local bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 12. The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin Macmillan Publishers Cora Cash is an heiress who rules the American social scene. When she marries into English nobility and becomes Duchess of Wareham, she finds out that everything about her life has changed. The rules and expectations are different, and her social standing no longer means what it did on the other side of the Atlantic. With a spirit similar to that of Edith Wharton, Daisy Goodwin brings entertaining life to this fictional story of Gilded Age love and money. This should especially appeal to fans who miss the Anglo influence of Downton Abbey. Get it from Bookshop or through your local bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 13. Heiresses: The Lives of Million Dollar Babies by Laura Thompson MacMillan Heiresses have always been a subject of fascination in American culture. They are much discussed and speculated on The Gilded Age. Laura Thompson's new history Heiresses: The Lives of Million Dollar Babies gives readers a new lens through which to view this phenomenon. By chronicling heiresses from Consuelo Vanderbilt (the original American "Dollar Heiress" and possible inspiration for the character of Gladys Russell) to Patty Hearst, with various stops in between, Thompson links the Gilded Age to modern history, showing how these women may seem to have it all, but behind the scenes all that glittered was not gold. Get it from Bookshop or through your local bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 14. Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line by Martha A. Sandweiss Penguin Random House Clarence King was a celebrity of the late 19th century who lived a double life that not even his wife knew about until his death. Born fair and blue-eyed, he passed across racial barriers, known by some as the famous white scientist and explorer Clarence King and others as James Todd, a Black porter and steelworker. Sandweiss tells the compelling story of a life divided by racial lines and the personal toll it took on King. This book provides a fascinating look at a life created around racial divides many Americans choose to ignore, that still exist today. Get it from Bookshop or through your local bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 15. Gilded City: Scandal and Sensation in Turn-of-the-Century New York by M.H. Dunlop Harper Collins Lest viewers be tempted to think the Gilded Age was all fancy parties and extravagant wealth, Gilded City: Scandal and Sensation in Turn-of-the-Century New York is here to expose the seedier side of this era. In a time when extreme wealth was everything, extreme excess was the name of the game. Crime proliferated like never before, and reputations built seemingly overnight tumbled down with one vicious rumor or party gone wrong. If The Gilded Age isn't action packed enough for your liking, give Gilded City a read, and imagine all the scandals awaiting us in future seasons. Get it from Bookshop or through your local bookstore via Indiebound. 16. Who Killed Jane Stanford?: A Gilded Age Tale of Murder, Deceit, Spirits, and the Birth of a University by Richard White WWNorton / Via wwnorton.com With this engrossing new true crime book, Pulitzer Prize Finalist Richard White seeks to untangle the mystery of the murder of one of the founders of Stanford University. Poisoned with strychnine, but declared dead of natural causes to protect the finances of the university, the murder of Jane Stanford was covered up for over a century by corruption. Now with a close new look at the facts, White provides us with a fascinating depiction of what actually happened. Get it from Bookshop or through your local bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.