HFVBT Book Review & Book Giveaway: The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields

Title: The Age of Desire

Author: Jennie Fields

Paperback Publication Date: May 28, 2013

Publisher: Penguin Publishing

Pages: 384

ISBN: 978-0143123286

Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours/Publisher

Rating: An excellent cupcake with sprinkles AND a cherry on top!


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.

My Review:

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.

For more information, please visit Jennie’s website. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

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 Plum Creek Peddler 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 Guest Post at Books, Belles and Beaux

Wednesday, August 28 Review at The Lit Bitch Review at From Left to Write Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Thursday, August 29 Review at CelticLady’s Reviews Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Friday, August 30 Review at A Novel Review Review & Giveaway at Books in the Burbs


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.

12 thoughts on “HFVBT Book Review & Book Giveaway: The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields

  1. This novel sounds captivating and fascinating. I enjoyed your excellent review which gave me insight into the writing and the story. Many thanks.


  2. I loved ‘The Paris Wife’ so I know that I would love “The Age of Desire”. Great idea about this book and others like it being a wonderful stew. I am really looking forward to enjoying this book. Thank you for the chance!



  3. Good (early) morning,

    I have been traveling through the blogosphere reading about this book, and each time I read about it on a stop on this particular tour, the more intrigued I am becoming with the story! I never read a book by Wharton before, but after reading about Age of Desire, I not only want to read two of Wharton’s works, but I would love to cross-compare the original author with the inspiration Ms. Fields had in writing this book! I have found that a new niche in literature of late for me is biographical fiction, as I am rather keen to dig into the real lives of the living legends that we all grew up hearing about, but perhaps never had the proper chance to get to know!?

    I like the styling of the fiction side of biographies, because they allow you into the setting, locale, and internal viewings of the person you are attempting to make a connection with, and in that way, your entering their very shoes and glimpsing their lives as they led it themselves; as portrayed by the writer who penned the story! I find regular biographies a bit more droll, as I have a harder time imagining the whole picture!! I oft have noticed that certain writers have an instinctive edge into the person’s internal world — almost as though they are channeling the story as it needs to be laid before the reader, and to right the perception that needs to be known.

    Actually, the two books that I want to read are the ones you mentioned of being your favourite Wharton novels!! Wicked!

    Thanks for this bookaway!
    Jorie @ ]inkand-bookaways(at)usa(dot)net]


    • My email address should read:

      [ inkand-bookaways(at)usa(dot)net ]

      The first bracket came out in reverse, and there isn’t a bracket in my email, that was just to ‘frame’ the address! Sorry for the slight glitch!


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