GILDED MOUNTAIN is an epic historical novel set in the small marble-mining town of Moonstone, Colorado. It’s the story of Sylvie Pelletier, a naive young woman trying to find her place in a hostile climate and the wider world. The novel is a bildungsroman that turns the Cinderella story inside out and offers an illuminating portrait of the American West seized by robber barons, built by immigrants’ infinite toil.
Sylvie recounts the story of leaving her family’s snowbound mountain cabin to work in the local manor house for the Padgetts, owners of the marble mining company that employs her father and dominates the town. Sharp-eyed Sylvie is awed by the luxury around her, fascinated by her employer, the charming “Countess” Inge, and confused by the erratic affections of Jasper, the bookish heir to the family fortune. When she learns that a European King will soon arrive for a hunting party, her fairy-tale ideas of glamour and romance take a dark turn. She realizes the Padgetts’ lofty philosophical talk is at odds with the unfair labor practices that have enriched them. Their servants, the Gradys, descendants of formerly enslaved people, have long known this to be true—and are making plans to form a utopian community on the Colorado prairie.
Outside the manor walls, Moonstone is roiling with discontent. A handsome union organizer, working with labor leader Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, is stirring up the quarry workers. The local newspaper editor—a bold woman who takes Sylvie on as an apprentice—is publishing unflattering accounts of the Padgett Company. Threats of violence permeate the air. Sylvie navigates between vastly different worlds and struggles to find her voice amidst conflicting loves and loyalties. When the harsh and dangerous winter brings tragedy, Sylvie must choose between silence and revenge.
Drawn from true stories of Colorado history, GILDED MOUNTAIN grapples with the forces common to both the 1910s and 2020s—wealth and poverty, immigration, and freedom of expression. An indelible novel about longing for family, equality, beauty, and joy.
Praise & Reviews
“Kate Manning’s fat, immersive novel, transfixed me over the course of three days. There are views to admire, mysteries to be solved, and love stories to escape into. Awe-inspiring.”
–Elizabeth Egan, New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice (link)
“Manning’s prose is so evocative, your fingers may begin to feel icy as you read her depiction of the brutal winters in fictional Moonstone, Colorado.”
–The Washington Post
“Gilded Mountain is utterly transporting, a novel that will sweep you off your feet with the promise of adventure, equality, freedom, and, yes, love.
—Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor, Amazon Best Books of November and Editors Pick (link)
“A page-turning exploration of wealth inequality, organized labor and young love in the early 1900s.”
–Emma Athena, Boulder Weekly
“Gilded Mountain is an ambitious novel. It contains romance, historical fiction, and inspired, high-minded thinking. Gorgeously evocative.”
–Julia Kastner, Shelf Awareness
“Looking for a big historical novel to read by the fire? Manning’s second novel will scratch your itch.”
–Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times
“An emotionally complex and relatable heroine. A smart and compelling read.” –
-Apple Best Books of November (link)
“The writing is magnificent.”
–Sandy Mahaffey, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star (link)
“An eloquent epic.”
–Jesse Kornbluth, Bookreporter (link)
“Kate Manning is a master storyteller. Gilded Mountain is so immersive, so richly imagined, that reading it feels akin to time travel. Manning writes historical sagas like no one else; the dreamers, strivers, and opportunists who populate this tale possess a uniquely American desire to reinvent themselves, whatever it takes. An epic story of love, hope and perseverance.”
—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Exiles and Orphan Train
“Sweeping. A wild adventure.” – Robin Young, host, NPR’s Here & Now
“Here is adventure of the first order, as young Sylvie Pelletier finds herself thrust into a seething union dispute in a marble-quarrying town. There’s violence in the wintry air, but also romance, as two charismatic men vie for Sylvie’s attention. Dread and love entwine, as the forces and people that transformed the 20th century converge on the town, all this rendered by Ms. Manning in prose as clean and sharp as the stone saws on the mountain. I raced through it. Sylvie is dynamite and Gilded Mountain is brilliant.”
— Erik Larson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Splendid and The Vile and Dead Wake
“The best historical novels sing because, through them, we feel the reverberations of the past in the present day. Hard work, love, sorrow, revenge, joy — Gilded Mountain hums with all of this and more.”
—Mary Beth Keane, New York Times bestselling author of Fever and Ask Again, Yes