The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
August 14, 2012
The Age of Desire
Sigh. I'm finding myself very hard to please sometimes. The Age of Desire, Jennie Fields' retelling of the friendship between Edith Wharton and her governess-later-secretary Anna Bahlmann, and of EW's affair with journalist Morton Fullerton, is the kind of book I always hope to find on the library's new book shelves or on someone's blog, the kind of book I can't wait to read. So it's sad for me that it''s the kind of book I want to just finish.
I felt a little like the Edith Wharton portrayed in the book: cross, never satisfied, sometimes harsh, longing for something different. There were so many very positive reviews online, so maybe I'm missing something. Maybe it's because none of the characters -- self-centered Edith, self-effacing Anna, creepy Fullerton, sad Teddy Wharton, except maybe Henry James -- is very likable or sympathetic. (By some accounts, Edith Wharton wasn't very likable, so it's possible that that part rings true.) At times, the writing didn't appeal to me either. Too many images, details, metaphors, unnecessary descriptions, famous names, allusions. A row of trees at The Mount is "Epic. Childlike.' (huh?) I'm glad I read this book and I did enjoy parts of it. I guess I just wanted this book to be better, because the premise was so wonderful. If you read it, I'll be very interested to know what you think.
I just saw that a new book of EW's letters to Anna Bahlmann is about to come in for me at the library, It will be interesting to read them, to see how these women come across there, and to go back to the biography I was reading to see how this time in her life is described.
#6barsets #emma200th #maisie #PalliserParty #Woolfalong A.A. Milne Agatha Christie Alexander McCall Smith Allison Pearson Amy Lowell Angela Thirkell Ann Bridge Anne Perry Anthony Trollope Anticipation Armchair Travels Art Audiobooks Barbara Pym Biography Bloomsbury Bookish things Boston British Library Crime Classics Cambridge Cathleen Schine Charles Dickens Coffee-table books Cookbooks D.E. Stevenson Deborah Crombie Donna Leon Dorothy L. Sayers Dorothy Whipple E.H. Young E.M. Delafield E.M. Forster Edith Wharton Elinor Lipman Elizabeth Gaskell Elizabeth Jenkins Elizabeth Taylor Elizabeth von Arnim Ellizabeth Taylor Emily Dickinson Ernest Hemingway Eudora Welty Fiction Films Food from Books Food Writing Found on a Blog George Eliot Georgette Heyer Helen Ashton Henry James History Homes and Haunts Ideas Imogen Robertson Isabella Stewart Gardner Jacqueline Winspear Jane Austen Joanna Trollope Julia Child Language Laurie Colwin Letters Library Books Literature Louise Andrews Kent Louise Penny M.F.K. Fisher Madame Bovary Madame de Sévigné Madame de Staël Margaret Kennedy Margery Sharp Martha Grimes Mary Shelley Memoirs Miss Read My Year with Edith Mysteries Nathaniel Hawthorne Nonfiction Nook Only Connect P.D. James Paris in July Persephones Plays Poetry Pride and Prejudice 200 Queen Victoria R.I.P. Reading England 2015 Ruth Rendell Sarah Orne Jewett Short Stories Switzerland Sylvia Beach Team Middlemarch The 1924 Club The Brontës the Carlyles The Classics Club Thomas Hardy Virago Virginia Woolf Washington Irving Willa Cather William Maxwell Winifred Peck Winifred Watson