Kirstie's Reviews > Oscar Wilde Discovers America: A Novel

Oscar Wilde Discovers America by Louis Edwards
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Mar 04, 08

Recommended for: fans of Oscar Wilde, creative historical fiction
Read in March, 2008

Just finished this one last night and I have to say it was thoroughly enjoyable overall to read as an Oscar Wilde fan. It's one of those books that isn't based completely in fact and so some liberties were taken in terms of interpreting things Oscar was known to say and articles/reviews of his tour in America. It's from the perspective of a servant and, as the book supposes, close friend of Oscar's. This man is black at a time that people are much more discriminated against based on race (not too long after the Civil War.) He's college educated and has studied Wilde...and so, though his aspirations are much higher than being a mere servant, he decides it's worthwhile to follow Wilde around North America and can't give up the opportunity. The book also supposes that Traquair, as he is called, comes up with sayings as witty and insightful as Wilde does and even inspires Wilde, whose portrait is painted as someone intelligent enough to look beyond race and see beauty despite the racism of the time (Indeed, wouldn't we all love to think this was the case!)


Though it's fiction for the most part, it's incredibly believable. It's also very witty as you might imagine and an adventure besides. There are two adventures here-the first being Oscar's in which he tries to turn America towards art (and truly to win its love imo) We see him putting on airs while lying on decadent furs while the inner vulnerability is obvious to any half observant person around him for half a second that has any idea about human nature.


The second is about Traquair and his quest to search out his lineage, locate his relatives, and have a wild time of it. It's a year of his life when you can imagine not one day is even half lived. He feels every range of emotion-elation to depression. And, as his intelligence provides Oscar with more and more material "Travel moves me," we become increasingly interested in the surreality of this character as well. Of course, we know how Oscar's life ends. To provide us with a new character of such intellect adds a mystery to the ending of the novel itself.


I must also say that it has a very interesting ending...Without giving away too much, let me say it's a double ending. The first ending is somewhat open. The next is a final ending many years later, which I don't think is often done. It adds a real sense of perspective though, from Traquair's point of view, about this year of his life and what ended up happening in reality to our dear friend Oscar.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Erin (new)

Erin whoa. this sounds crazy. i will have to look into this one. let me know how it goes! interesting.


Kirstie well, anything involving Oscar Wilde is always crazy! I'm only 1/3rd of the way through it but it's really interesting so far-will let you know how it is when I finish.


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