If you’re looking for a gateway book to gain an interest in Newport, Rhode Island’s history, Deborah Davis’s Gilded is a great place to start.
Davis artfully weaves facts and nostalgia to illustrate the complex facade of Newport’s elite. She breathes life back into the Vanderbilts, Astors, Oelrichs and other prominent families whose legacies survive in their great “summer cottages” on Ocean Drive and Bellevue Avenue. Navigating the social olympics imposed by powerful women like Caroline Astor and Mamie Fish was what measured someone’s true worth according to their standards—regardless of how much money was seated in their deep, iron-clad purses.
Reading Gilded helped me gain a more solid understanding of a place I’ve grown to love so much—this certainly won’t be the last Newport-centric book I’ll read.