Monday, August 19, 2013

The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Read: August 18, 2013

For fans of The Paris Wife, a sparkling glimpse into the life of Edith Wharton and the scandalous love affair that threatened her closest friendship. They say that behind every great man is a great woman. Behind Edith Wharton, there was Anna Bahlmann—her governess turned literary secretary and confidante. At the age of forty-five, despite her growing fame, Edith remains unfulfilled in a lonely, sexless marriage. Against all the rules of Gilded Age society, she falls in love with Morton Fullerton, a dashing young journalist. But their scandalous affair threatens everything in Edith’s life—especially her abiding ties to Anna. At a moment of regained popularity for Wharton, Jennie Fields brilliantly interweaves Wharton’s real letters and diary entries with her fascinating, untold love story. Told through the points of view of both Edith and Anna, The Age of Desire transports readers to the golden days of Wharton’s turn-of-the century world and—like the recent bestseller The Chaperone - effortlessly re-creates the life of an unforgettable woman.

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Edith Wharton
I came to Jennie Fields' The Age of Desire utterly ignorant of Edith Wharton's personal story. Though familiar enough with her body of work, I had no concept of the woman behind it which made this book a pretty exciting prospect in terms of content. What I wasn't prepared for was the quality story I would find between these pages. 

I think one of the greatest challenges in making this story work lay in recreating a world before the success of the women's rights movement. I mean, we've all read the history books and can recite the injustices off the cuff, but can we really claim to understand the mentality of the period? By and large, I think the answer is no which leads me to the extraordinary efforts put forth by Fields in this piece.   

Edith's emotional and sexual awakening is the heart of this novel. Morality aside I loved watching this character come into her own understanding of womanhood and the way that journey reminded me how fortunate I am to live in a time and place that encourages women to be embrace and enjoy their femininity. 

Another great thing about this book is the contrast between Edith and Anna. These women have very different values and views of the world. Telling the story through both balanced the piece very nicely, but it also allowed readers to really explore and understand the depth, intricacy and complexity of the friendship that existed between the two.

Not finding much to appreciate in Teddy or Fullerton, I was at first concerned by my lack of enthusiasm for the men in Edith's life, but as I continued to read, as Fields' thesis began to come through, I realized they themselves weren't all that important. This wasn't in any way their story. 

Taking inspiration from Edith's own letters, The Age of Desire is an elegantly luxurious tale of devotion, passion and the changing conventions of the early twentieth century. 

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"When a person has a different sense of right and wrong, what does it matter? When the man I love no longer thinks I am enough, what does it matter? When we live in a time where sin is more delicious than loyalty, what does it matter?"
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Check out all the stops on Jennie Fields' The Age of Desire Virtual Book Tour

Monday, July 29
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, July 31
Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Giveaway at vvb32 reads
Monday, August 5
Review at Carole’s Ramblings & Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
Tuesday, August 6
Review at A Bookish Affair
Interview at From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, August 7
Review at West Metro Mommy
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, August 8
Review at Book-alicious Mama
Friday, August 9
Review at vvb32 reads
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry
Monday, August 12
Review at Carpe Librum
Wednesday, August 14
Review at My Reader’s Block
Review & Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Friday, August 16
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Monday, August 19
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, August 20
Review at The Cottage Bookshelf
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, August 21
Review at Book Addict Katie
Review & Interview at A Bookish Libraria
Thursday, August 22
Review at Amused by Books
Review at Just One More Chapter
Friday, August 23
Review at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Monday, August 26
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Review at Books, Belles and Beaux
Tuesday, August 27
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Guest Post at Books, Belles and Beaux
Wednesday, August 28
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Thursday, August 29
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, August 30
Review at A Novel Review
Review & Giveaway at Books in the Burbs

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