Publication Date: November 1, 2022
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Sylvie Pelletier is the irrepressible young heroine of this sweeping historical novel, set in Moonstone, Colorado, 1907. Hers is the tale of a hardscrabble education, about right and wrong, and the consequences of speaking out against injustice.
In a voice full of questions and sly humor, 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, as 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, along with labor leader Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, is stirring up the quarry workers. The editor of the local newspaper—a bold woman who takes Sylvie on as 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 own 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 is an unforgettable saga of a bygone American West seized by robber barons and settled by immigrants; a novel about resilience in the midst of hardship, and a story infused with longing—for family and equality, beauty and joy.
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