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The Buccaneers

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  3,742 ratings  ·  267 reviews
Nan and Jinny St George have both wealth and beauty in generous supply. In the New York society of the 1870s, however, only those with old money can achieve the status of the elite, and it is here that the sisters seem doomed to failure.

Nan's new governess, Laura Testvalley, herself an outsider, takes pity on their plight and launches them instead on the unsuspecting Briti
Paperback, 406 pages
Published October 1st 1994 by Penguin Books (first published 1938)
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Community Reviews

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I've fallen in love, readers!

It took me about 12 hours from start to finish to read the last of Wharton's novels, left unfinished for decades and then completed in Wharton's style by scholar Marion Mainwaring. As I mentioned earlier, I've watched the PBS series three times now and there's something about it that gets to me. Perhaps because it's sexier and funnier and looser than what one would expect from the era, and because [SPOILER ALERT:] its ending which actually arises from Wharton's notes
I found a copy of this book in a used bookstore, and hesitated before finally caving and buying it. I loved The Age of Innocence, but (as I learned from reading the book jacket while in the store) The Buccaneers is unfinished. Wharton wrote about 89,000 words of the story before dying in 1937, and Wharton scholar Marion Mainwaring picked up where the book left off and finished the novel. There's a note at the end about how Mainwaring made some changes to Wharton's draft to account for later chan ...more
The St. George and Elmsworth families are *new money* and looking for brighter prospects for their daughters in the marriage market so they hie off to England looking for Dukes and Earl with aging homes in need repairs that only cold hard cash can bring them. The young ladies make their splash, make their marriages and then no surprise, have to lie in those beds that they've made for themselves. Some are successful, others not so - despite a very promising beginning.

"But it's rather lonely some
Feb 07, 2009 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 18+
Shelves: classics, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The synopsis for this 1938 edition for The Buccaneers (appearing above) is completely wrong! Who wrote that?! No swashbuckling pirates, here! Edith Wharton's "novel" was published as a lightly edited, incomplete manuscript in the year following her death. It was sure to have been her masterpiece!
The "Buccaneers" are 5 nouveau riche American girls who, steered by an English-Italian (cousin to artist/poet D.G. Rosetti) governess, "invade" the Bristish peerage in the 'seventies (1870's).
While later
Oh my God, if someone could resurrect the dead and had enough magic potion for one person, I would choose Madame Wharton. It devastates me that even if I visit the "W" shelf at the library a million times over, as if I were a pilgrim visiting a holy shrine, on my bleeding and torn knees, there will never be a new Wharton book propped there for me to read for the very first time. I guess I should be grateful that there are authors out there who inspire such devotion, dead or otherwise.
Janez Hočevar
The content of The Buccaneers could well and wholly be summed up by the French proverb "L'argent ne fait pas le bonheur." Neither do the titles of nobility and everything that goes with it.
Wharton's choice of theme for this novel is twofold. First, it shows the collision of two civilisations, where the world of the blase British nobility, considered by itself to be the pinnacle of the excellence, is invaded by the American parvenus. This would be of no importance if the American intruders weren'
Apr 21, 2015 Lobstergirl rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: plovers
Shelves: fiction, own

It's the 1870s, and the daughters of New York City's nouveau riche are being scorned by their social superiors. They are forced to vacation at Saratoga because they haven't gotten invitations to Newport. A clueless father humiliates his family by ensconcing them in a house on shlubby Madison Avenue rather than chic Fifth. Rejected at home, the four daughters set out for England to snare them some aristocratic husbands. They are the buccaneers.

Four stars for the portion Wharton wrote, which co-au
Lots of fun and often overlooked, this chronicles the marriage prospects of four daughters of nouveau riche Americans who hope to land cash-poor English aristocrats. After all, new fortunes can’t buy entrance to New York society, but the doors have to swing wide open if the families can boast a duke for an in-law. But can a titled marriage bring happiness? Of course not (at least not always), but the individual journeys make for great reading.
The Buccaneers is a romantic anti-romance novel, if that makes any sense. Five young American daughters of fortunate financial speculators, finding themselves excluded from the crustiest New York society, begin to marry into an extended family of English nobility. As attractive as marrying into the top tier of society initially seems, navigating their responsibilities to ancestral mansions, families and tenants brings unhappiness, particularly for the youngest, Nan, who has married a duke who wa ...more
Ce roman riche et foisonnant reprend le thème très prisé par Henry James de la rencontre entre la nouvelle Amérique et la vieille Europe. Cette opposition est encore renforcée par le choix de personnages féminins pour les Américains et de personnages presque exclusivement masculins pour les Anglais. Edith Wharton ne s’intéresse d’ailleurs que peu aux hommes dans ce récit, excepté les Thwarte, père et fils, confidents et amis respectifs de Miss Testvalley et d’Annabelle. Le roman se divise en qua ...more
Hilary Hicklin
As is quite often the case, Wharton's later work doesn't quite measure up to her earlier masterpieces, such as Ethan Frome, which is what I would recommend to anyone new to this writer, and being her last (unfinished) novel it lacks the polish of her other books. Marion Mainwaring has done a pretty good job of completing it though.

Wharton has fun exposing the petty snobberies of New York society as well as the pointless traditions of the British class system, as when the Dowager Duchess of Tint
Although this novel is unfinished and Wharton would have done a lot of revision, there is still a lot of her wonderful prose and it is very interesting to see her looking back at the 1870s from the 1930s, which in places allow her to be sexually franker than she could in her earlier works. The novel centres on a group of young American women who marry British men and struggle to fit into British high society, and there are some powerfully-drawn characters, including the heroine, Annabel ("Nan"), ...more
I really enjoyed reading this book and found it to be a very fast read. I was interested in it because I watched the BBC dramatization - which was heavily Americanized & modernized as it turns out. My chief exposure to Edith Wharton was the very short and quite depressing "Ethan Frome." I found that to be written in quite an impenetrable style and was turned off of her for years - until I saw the film and came across a copy of the book in a used bookstore.

The way she writes in "The Buccaneer
I hardly feel this book can be classified as an Edith Wharton -- she died before it was completed, and apparently even before it was fleshed out. The complete-r, one Marion Mainwaring (writing in 1993), stews the final chapters with injudicious parentheses, romance-novel prose (Nan is "a flower unfolding ... a rose in bloom") and exclamation points galore. God help us all.
This book was finished by another author and frankly I just skimmed at end. I love Edith Wharton's writing but I think it was a mistake to let someone else finish this book. I thought the difference in writing styles was very obvious and it was a big let-down. The writing that I take to be Mainwaring's reads like a bad period romance.
I have mixed feelings about this book. Edith Wharton is exceptionally skilled in describing interactions with people. She could write about the most boring subjects and still keep you enchanted with her writing.

The story in itself is not that thrilling or exciting, but I could not put the book down because of of how well it was written. However, near the last third of the book, completed by a different author, this changes. Gone are the beautiful descriptions and the story turns into some kind
Mar 04, 2012 Hilary rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
Edith Wharton left this novel unfinished at her death, and Marion Mainwaring finished it decades later. I was sailing on toward a 4-5 star rating until I reached that unfortunate transition. Wharton's beginning was wonderful, full of lively descriptions not only of the characters and their thought processes, but also of period elements that make books so enlightening. Mainwaring is a Wharton scholar, from my understanding, and while I'm glad she made it possible for this gem to be published more ...more
I give this book a qualified four stars. The qualification? Don't finish it. I only read the first two-thirds of the book when it suddenly became apparent where Wharton left off and Mainwaring took over. I almost stopped reading this book at the very beginning when I first realized it was finished by another author, but I decided I would give it a try anyhow. The part written by Wharton is excellent, but Mainwaring replaces all of Wharton's subtleties and wit with jarring observations that revea ...more
Mia Parviainen
Edith Wharton never finished this book, so the last chapters were completed by Marion Mainwaring. I have never read a book finished by another author before, so I found myself constantly turning to the back, to see where Mainwaring took over. The end note assures me that any inventions were based on Wharton's notes, and any rearranging of Wharton's original text was to ensure consistency. I think on that the level the book succeeds and has a satisfying ending. I'm still wonder what Wharton would ...more
Feb 04, 2014 Lori rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Downton Abbey fans, Jane Austen fans
This unfinished novel tells the stories of five young American girls – the St George sisters, the Elmsworth sisters, and their friend Conchita Closson, and their quest to find suitable husbands. The girls are “dollar princesses” or “buccaneers” – their fathers have made money on Wall Street and in industry, but their lack of social status means they are not invited to fashionable parties and events in New York and appear to have little hope of marrying well in America. The youngest girl’s govern ...more
RATING: 3.5 stars.

Good read but it seemed to me that the characters needed more development, maybe...


Edith Wharton foi uma escritora norte-americana nascida em meados do século XIX (faleceu em 1937), que escreveu diversas obras, sendo a mais famosa das quais (e também a vencedora de um prémio Pulitzer) "A Idade da Inocência" (The Age of Innocence).

Não sou muito de me forçar a ler clássicos; creio mesmo que, ao longo dos anos, adquiri uma espécie de aversão a t
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Really enjoyed this one, completed by Marion Mainwaring who apparently studies Wharton's work for several decades, so I think she did it justice. This is the 3rd Wharton book I've read and enjoyed all. My daughter is reading House of Mirth for her AP Lit class as a high school junior. I think this book, House of Mirth and Age of Innocence are truly great American literature.
I really enjoyed this book--I found the differences between American 'high' society and British aristocratic society absolutely fascniating.
Catherine Gillespie
The first part of the book is fantastic, and I really enjoyed it. However, somewhere around the middle the novel moves to a new part, which takes place two years after the previous section ends. During that time, one of the main characters has made a completely uncharacteristic decision, which is not adequately explained. The decision is so out of character, and even the character herself seems so bewildered by it, that I couldn’t suspend disbelief. It was the sort of decision the other girls wo ...more
Jul 25, 2015 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2015
It's been a while since I read any Wharton, but her writing was more straightforward and simple than I remember. I was looking for some nice 19th century social drama, and I certainly found it in The Buccaneers, but I was disappointed in the lack of angst and psychological drama that I'd expect from Wharton. There were some odd plot jumps that I was also sad about, as the reader misses most of the significant plot point.

And as other reviewers have mentioned, I didn't appreciate the alternate ha
Devyn Duffy
Mar 21, 2015 Devyn Duffy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of novels about people and society
The usual story of high society and people trying to make the best of it. As an unfinished novel completed by a Wharton scholar, it's nearly seamless. The ending does feel rushed and isn't what I would have chosen, but it's apparently true to what Wharton had planned and it does make sense. Although stories like these are plot-driven, they succeed or fail by their characters, and this story has some interesting ones. Best yet, no one in the story is really a villain, even though most of them do ...more
Exciting to imagine what Mrs. Wharton would have done with this book had she lived to finish it. The edition that I read isn't annotated, so I'm not sure how much of it is her work, but it feels skeletal, though certainly a fine armature of a novel. Culture clashes, generational mores, the changing roles of women both in marriage and in big-S and small-s society. I liked it more after reading it than while reading it: a better perspective on its ideas, which surely aren't as fully developed as t ...more
Jade Lauron
I watched the miniseries and then read this book. The miniseries did veer off towards the end (but was faithful to the parts that Wharton wrote) and put some "Hollywood" in, which made the viewer more sympathetic to the protagonist. It was more about drama, where the book focus more on the politics of social interactions. I'm not really sure which one I liked more.

To be honest, I was really disappointed that neither had more focus on "the making of a Duchess". I would have liked to see that par
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Edith Newbold Jones was born into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." The youngest of three children, Edith spent her early years touring Europe with her parents and, upon the family's return to the United States, enjoyed a privileged childhood in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. Edith's creativity and talent soon became obvious: By the a ...more
More about Edith Wharton...
The Age of Innocence The House of Mirth Ethan Frome Ethan Frome and Other Short Fiction The Custom of the Country

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“And for a long while they stood side by side without speaking, each seeing the other in every line of the landscape.” 9 likes
“She lay for a long time listening to the mysterious sounds given forth by old houses at night, the undefinable creakings, rustlings, and sighings, which would have frightened Virginia had she remained awake, but which sounded to Nan like the long murmur of the past breaking on the shores of a sleeping world.” 6 likes
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