Gilded-Years

Always be true to yourself.

It sounds like a poster, a meme, or advice that’s always been in the background of your life. Putting on airs, pretending to be someone you’re not, keeping up the ruse, it’s harder than it looks—and besides, genuineness is a trait people like. Always be true to yourself—unless, as in the new book “The Gilded Years” by Karin Tanabe, temporarily living a lie could change your future.

For three years, Anita Hemmings had worked for this moment.

It was the fall of 1896, the first day of her last year at Vassar. She’d finally get to partake of the bittersweet rites that senior students enjoyed, and she anticipated a post-graduate future as a scholar of Greek studies, maybe even a professor. She studied hard and made what she hoped would be lifelong friends—but she was always careful.

She had to be.

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