Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields


I received a galley of this novel from NetGalley for review. This in no way affected my opinions.

The Age of Desire is a fictionalized account of the love affair between famous novelist Edith Wharton and journalist Morton Fullerton. The book is told from the perspectives of Edith and Edith's long-time friend and secretary Anna Bahlmann. Between the two of them, we see how Edith's affair with Morton affects the long relationship between Edith and Anna.

This was a fabulously told story told over the years 1907 through 1910 from Massachusetts to France to England. I loved the time period, and the settings. Paris in the first few decades of the 20th century is among my favorite time periods – the glittery world of art and literature, all told from the point-of-view of one of America's greatest writers.

The characterizations of Edith and Anna, along with the characters of Morton, Edith's husband Teddy, and famous author Henry James (among others) are told true to form and realistically. And the time period was beautifully captured without stuffing details down your throat. The descriptions of the French countryside was among my favorites. Some of the descriptions, however, such as the times when Edith and Morton were together, were a bit flowery, but not overly so.

Edith once described Morton as 'the love of her life,' but if he was really like how he was in the book, then I can't help but think, “What was she thinking?” However, this was a fictional characterization, and not 100% accurate, I'm guessing. Their affair was not 'true love' since it was obvious that Morton was not in love with her. It was definitely more of a lustful affair.

Definitely worth a read to those who love the time period, and those who love Wharton's work, like myself. I've read three of her novels prior to this, and I'm only more motivated to read more of her work.


7 comments:

Anne said...

I enjoyed this one too, though I could not see why she would waste her time on Morton, he was so not worthy of her. It was an interesting look at a great author.

Jennifer Hartling said...

I enjoy historical fiction and never more so when the story is about a literary figure. I'll have to check this out, thanks for the review!

Audra said...

While reading, I kind of hated this book (as you know) but it's grown on me in the time since I've finished -- rather shocking/fun/interesting look at a famous author.

Svea said...

This sounds wonderful. Edit Wharton was the first author I wrote a major paper on in school, and I've been captivated by her writing ever since. Thanks for the review! I will definitely add this to my list :)

Jennie said...

Christie, thanks so much for the lovely review. You're so right. Morton Fullerton was not a very appealing character. And it is difficult to understand why a genius like Edith loved him so. But actually, as far as I know Edith never openly acknowledged him or called him the love of her life. It was Walter Berry she called the love of her life at the time he died. And when she died, she requested that she be buried next to Walter. I did everything I could to make the book accurate, but of course, it's a novel, so I had to make up dialogue and description. Factually, it's as biographical as I could make it!

Jennie said...

Christie, thanks so much for the lovely review. You're so right. Morton Fullerton was not a very appealing character. And it is difficult to understand why a genius like Edith loved him so. But actually, as far as I know Edith never openly acknowledged him or called him the love of her life. It was Walter Berry she called the love of her life at the time he died. And when she died, she requested that she be buried next to Walter. I did everything I could to make the book accurate, but of course, it's a novel, so I had to make up dialogue and description. Factually, it's as biographical as I could make it!

Jenny said...

I haven't read a book of hers in forever and I remember nothing about them, but I do need to get to this one soon. And I'm hoping it'll re-inspire me to read her books again!