Title: The Age of Desire
Author: Jennie Fields
Paperback Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Penguin Publishing
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours/Publisher
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.
I have always been mesmerized with Edith Wharton, as I am a fan of her work. I love “The Age Innocence” and “The House of Mirth”. So, it was quite exciting to read a book about the woman behind the masterpieces. Jennie Fields’ research is shown throughout and I loved reading about the complex relationship Edith had with her husband, Anna (her governess and secretary), and her scandalous relationship with Wharton.
This book is one that can’t be read in one or two sittings. It’s like a stew….sure it tastes good after a few hours, but it’s even better when it’s been simmering for the day! And, this book is like that. I found myself enjoying the storyline, not rushing through to write a review, and because of that, I just appreciated the writing more. Jennie Fields shows a side of Edith that not many knew, not even in her close circle of associates. However, it is done with the class and sophistication that Edith exudes.
Rather than feel Edith was sleeping around, it was told in a way that the reader could sympathize for her. Edith had a first love, but felt she wasn’t “enough” for him, so she settles for a man that chases her: Teddy. Teddy desires Edith, almost goes mad for her attention, and seems to be the one stronghold on Edith. Edith is not in love with Teddy, but enjoys the comforts that marriage brings: companionship and a place in society. As a writer, Edith depends on Anna to write her manuscripts and make corrections along the way. Anna has always known everything about Edith and is taken aback when she is closed off from the relationship Edith has with Wharton.
I felt compassion and heartache for Anna, and truly was sad for her own selfless act of being faithful to Edith at any costs…even for the cost of love. Anna cannot see herself separate from Edith and in the end, Edith knows and appreciates the loyalty Anna gives her.
Wharton is a struggling writer, a reporter for the newspaper, and is engaged to be married to someone (that causes quite a sensation, too!). Wharton brings out the romanticism and sexuality in Edith, that has been dormant and non-existent in her own marriage. Wharton is tormentor of sorts, and in ways uses Edith to his own advantage. It’s a doomed relationship from the start, but it brings out a side to Edith that provides richer material for her books, has her realize and make changes in her marriage, and gives her a greater appreciation for Anna.
This is a fantastic read and one that readers will enjoy! If you are a fan of Edith Wharton, love historical fiction, and/or love a great story-then read this one! The storyline doesn’t have a lot of twists and turns, rather it is more of a character focused story that shows the internal and external struggles a woman has and how she redeems herself in the end.
*A huge thanks to HFVBT and the publisher!!
**For the giveaway details: please scroll down to read!
About the Author:
Born in the heart of the heart of the country – Chicago — Jennie Fields decided to become a writer at the age of six and produced her first (365 page!) novel when she was eleven. She received her MFA at the Iowa Writers Workshop and published her first short stories while spending a postgraduate year at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. But needing to feed her family in the era just post-Mad Men, she became an early female copywriter at an advertising agency, soon rising to creative director and moving to New York. In her 32-year advertising career, she wrote and produced many well-known and award-winning commercials. People even now can embarrass her by telling her they grew up dancing to one of her McDonalds’ jingles.
Still, fiction was her great love. Writing during her lunch hour and after her daughter’s bedtime she penned her first novel, Lily Beach, which was published by Atheneum in 1993 to much acclaim. Since then, she’s written three more novels including Crossing Brooklyn Ferry and The Middle Ages. Her latest, The Age of Desire, is a biographical novel based on the life of the author dearest to her heart, Edith Wharton. An Editor’s Choice of the New York Times Book Review, it describes Wharton’s mid-life love affair with a younger, manipulative man. Why the affinity to Wharton? Because she wrote about people attempting to break society’s expectations for them – which is something Fields has been yearning to do all her life.
Virtual Book Tour Schedule
Monday, July 29 Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, August 8 Review at Book-alicious Mama
Monday, August 12 Review at Carpe Librum
Friday, August 16 Review at A Chick Who Reads
Monday, August 19 Review at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, August 23 Review at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, August 27 Guest Post at Books, Belles and Beaux
Book Giveaway Details:
1 winner will be selected randomly.
Please enter your email address and name in the comments section.
Giveaway ends September 30, 2013.
US entries only.
- Hand Yelling The Age of Desire (mjroseblog.typepad.com)
- “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” (sarahemsley.com)
- The Age of Desire (bookaliciousmama.wordpress.com)
- Edith & Jane, and Penguins (streetsofsalem.com)
- The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton My rating: 5 of 5 stars A reader can get so swept up in Edith Wharton’s world that they forget to be irate that their own middlebrow life would not merit one speck of narrative time in this rigid class hierarchy. Most (patronsaintsforwriters.com)
- Edith Wharton on Hard Work / Labor Day Quote of the Day (oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com)