Books by Sidney S. Stark

The Gilded Cage, sequel to Certain Liberties, is immersed in historical currents of the mid 1800s. An intense family saga with the same memorable characters, while introducing a few new ones, The Gilded Cage explores tensions of the post-Civil War Reconstruction North and South. The unrest of a young couple’s early-age marriage adds to the crushing pressures Emily and Corey must survive to excel as a parents, partners, and performers. Their struggle to live a “normal” life must endure betrayal, The Great Chicago Fire, and the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island. Survival, escape, and resilience unite in this portrait of a family and country emerging from War and the social turmoil that followed. The Kindle edition of The Gilded Cage is now available for pre-order. The official publishing date for the Kindle and paperback is December 7, 2020. 

Certain Liberties Cover

Certain Liberties is an historical novel about a gifted young musician who defies 19th-century models of womanhood by trying to succeed in a man’s world. It was said that she had ‘male courage, feminine fortitude and the soul of an artist’. Challenging cultural bias against playing the ‘masculine’ violin and performing in public in an ‘unladylike position’, she incited censure for her views on everything from politics to the shackles of women’s underwear, only to find there were more serious threats to her personal freedom. Running from a life of prescribed expectations and a controlling father, she was recruited to work for the Underground Railroad, which she did to reunite with a cherished childhood friend. Only then did she learn about freedom in its literal sense, the most important part of the Founding Fathers’ Declaration of Independence, the right to life. Certain Liberties is available for purchase on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

“In this historical novel set in the 19th century, a young woman of uncommon musical talent longs for the freedom that’s typically reserved for men . . . The author masterfully sets the historical stage—the United States as it devolves into the Civil War—and she addresses the issue of slavery with nuance and rigor . . . a riveting storyline. Emily is a delightfully complex mix of defiance and prudence, as she learns early in life that “there’s a very narrow line to negotiate between freedom and responsibility for women.” . . . Stark’s prose is reliably lucid and consistently faithful to the setting . . . An emotionally affecting and historically edifying tale.” — Kirkus Reviews 

“As much a quick-paced mystery as social commentary, Stark’s novel captures and keeps the reader’s attention through memorable characters in historically well-researched settings, and adds her protagonist, Emily Alden, to a list of 19th century literary heroines like Elizabeth Bennet and Isabel Archer.”

Denise B. Dailey—Author of Listening to Pakistan, Riko: Seductions of an Artist, and Leaving Guanabara.

“With a wealth of historical detail woven into an intriguing plot, Sidney Stark has written a wonderful novel…with a roster of lively characters headed by Emily Alden, a young female musician fighting for many freedoms denied to women of her time, including the right to perform in public. It’s a wonderful read…not to be missed.”

Jia Kim—Cellist, and Artistic Director of the Central Chamber Music Series and Stowe Chamber Music Society.

“Certain Liberties is an emotional thriller…a page-turner coming-of-age adventure and romance…wrapped up in the social and historical context of 19th-century New York…the mosaic blend of characters reach out to the reader and reveal inventive resilience to overcome weights and challenges of life…Emily, Corey, and their sphere of family and friends remain memorable and inspiring…The thematic melodies strike a responsive chord…!”

Paul Pitcoff, JD, Professor Emeritus Adelphi University—Author of Beyond the Foster Care System and Certain Uncertainty (coming soon).

Twilight Perspectives answers questions about how we repair when trauma messes up the lives we thought were neat and orderly. Suggesting ways to deal with the end we all ultimately face and life’s mysteries that seem unsolvable, this short compilation of essays moves from the initial helplessness and futility of watching someone close deal with an irrevocable death sentence, to become remarkably buoyant and upbeat messages of surviving and thriving. Their all-too-human author offers clues gathered from inside a life’s narrative arc; not only the one being lost, but also the one being found.

Twilight Perspectives is available for purchase on Amazon in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle editions.

Works in Progress


A Memoir

The setting of Gifted! is a New York City on the cusp of WWII and post-war prosperity. Abandoned by parents and siblings, an economically privileged child is saved from an abusive French governess by the courage of her eccentric Edwardian grandmother. Gifted! explores the author’s childhood through her early adolescence with this remarkable grandparent who figuratively and literally saved her life.

Mistaken Identities

A Modern Novel with a Classical Twist

A novel of conflict between personal growth and historical memory, Mistaken Identities takes a high-end real estate broker and famous TV star, both at the end of their careers, into new territory where they risk safety to uncover who the really are. Moving together between modern day London and New York, their ancestors’ loves in the 1600’s suggest clues to the current mysteries of their own lives.