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The Age of Desire

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  1,461 Ratings  ·  327 Reviews

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 behind every great man is a woman. Behind Edith Wharton, there was Anna Bahlmann—her governess turned literary secretary, and her mothering, nurturing friend.

When at the age of forty-five, Edith falls passionately

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 2nd 2012 by Pamela Dorman Books (first published August 1st 2012)
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Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
I love Edith Wharton. She’s one of my favorite writers which is why, in part, I was disappointed with “Age of Desire”. At its center is a very tedious love story and at the heart of the love story are characters that show no development. They circle the same tired emotions and interactions throughout the book. No one grows.

I did enjoy some of the insights into Wharton’s writing life the international milieu in which she moved. Of course Henry James appears and she blends easily in artistic salon
May 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, memoir
This book was recieved as the result of a GoodReads giveaway.

I was a bit leery picking up this book as I knew I had a busy few weeks ahead of me and might not get enough time to pick it up or worse, what if I forgot what was going on and who was who?

Let me reassure you, this is the PERFECT summer read! I'm not a romance girl and although some may consider this a romance genre I loved the weave of the story and the richness of the characters...I would find myself sometimes cross with Edith Wharto
Kory Wells
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It is 1907, and Edith Wharton has come into her own with the publication of The House of Mirth. Everyone in Paris - even the servants - seems to know she is a famous American author. Graced by the luxuries of her upper-class status, her writing life is rich with travel abroad, friendships with other writers such as Henry James, and the steady support of her childhood governess turned secretary, Anna Bahlman. But in her personal life, Edith is restless in a way that travel and books and smoking a ...more
Jul 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
In her memoir Edith Wharton doesn’t mention Anna Bahlmann, a devoted servant who started out as her governess but who continued to play a prominent role as Edith grew older by becoming her companion and literary secretary. This novel explores some of the very personal stories Edith left out of the memoir but used as inspiration for her own novels and poetry. Written from both Edith’s and Anna’s points of view, The Age of Desire imagines their lives during the trying period when middle-aged, unha ...more
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
9/7/2012: A good airplane read, especially if you're a fan of Edith Wharton (which I AM!). But that's all it is--and I was expecting so much more from this "imagined biography" of Wharton's mid-life extramarital love affair. Based on her letters and those of her governess-turned-secretary Anna Bahlman, the story fleshes out the known facts of Wharton's life from 1908-1910 (with an epilogue in 1916) with a story both prosaic and melodramatic. The writing is limited and boring (if she said the wor ...more
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book was received for free through Goodreads First Reads.

As an Edith Wharton fan, I was eager to start in on this book. I quickly realized it was written more like chick lit than traditional historical fiction. No big deal, I thought – I like chick lit too. But the writing was worse than that. The prose was more similar to books I’d been assigned to read with my 4th grade pen pal - including exaggerated explanations of pronunciations of French words, unnecessary clarification of points that
Jul 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Giveaway opportunity: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I came to Jennie Fields' The Age of Desire utterly ignorant of Edith Wharton's personal story. Though familiar enough with her body of work, I had no concept of the woman behind it which made this book a pretty exciting prospect in terms of content. What I wasn't prepared for was the quality story I would find between these pages.

I think one of the greatest chall
Erika Robuck
Nov 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There are some novels that I am not able to get to for one reason or another until months or even years after they release. THE AGE OF DESIRE was one such novel, and I am very sad that I did not read it sooner because it consumed me in the best possible way.

The elegant cover invites the reader to enter Edith Wharton's world--a sphere of abundant wealth and intellectual stimulation, but severely lacking in the warmth of romantic attachment. Trapped in a loveless marriage by duty and guilt, Edith'
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
This dreary novel about Edith Wharton's sexual awakening was more sad than satisfying. I expected to gain some insight into Wharton's writing through this "deep dive" into her life, but that
didn't occur.

Instead, I developed contempt for her character without the balance of an appreciation of her talent. Her genius was constantly mentioned, but Field's writing was not strong enough to convey its components.

. . . The Wharton in this book didn't display much intelligence;

. . . She didn't demonstra
Laura Lee
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I enjoyed this book very much. It tells two love stories, one between a man and woman, and one between two best friends (women). There are heart breaking moments, when someone is crushed or feelings hurt, when someone feels left out and lonely. The writing was beautiful. The characterization was fantastic. It is one of my favorite books of the year. I can't say enough, but am afraid to say anything that gives the plot away. I have read biographies of Edith Wharton (the main character) before and ...more
Needless to say, I found "The Age of Desire" completely captivating. Edith Wharton is one of my favorite authors, and I wanted to know more about her, so tripping the fantasy seemed a good way to enjoy her life. Jennie Fields, I found is the perfect author for this voyage into Mrs. Warton's life because she seemed to climb into her persona with ease. I was mesmerized by this beautiful book.

The novel was written in influence of the style of Mrs. Wharton's Age, I felt. There was a tightness to th
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Reading this book was like eating an entire cone of cotton candy: I couldn't stop, and then when I was done I was like, wow, that was not necessary in life. Although the book certainly has its merits (some of the descriptive writing is quite good, and the social world of rich, artistic expats in Paris is pretty fun to read about), the characters' dialogue and inner monologues often don't ring true. By the end, I was hurrying through not because I wanted to know what happened, but because I had l ...more
Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies

This should have been something I loved but for some reason a little over half way through I just couldn't go on. It wasn't that the story or writing was bad but I was just bored. And I got to a point where the little battle in my head of Just Finish The Book vs. There Are Too Many More To Read the nagging of other worlds won.
The book (from what I have gathered thus far) is about Edith Wharton- famous female author of the early 1900's. It's historical fiction researched to where the author use
Lydia Presley
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fans of Paula McLain's The Paris Wife are going to fall in love with Jennie Field's masterpiece, The Age of Desire. This book is so lush and perfect I savored my way through it, exploring the life of Edith Wharton through the eyes of her faithful secretary, Anna.

I am going to be completely honest here - I knew next to nothing about Wharton. I'd read recently some fiction that was inspired by her... but still knew next to nothing about the woman. This book remedied that. Inspired by Edith's real
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I don't know where to start..., this book was perfect. I have always loved EW, now I am more curious about her life and will probably read a biography. This is one of the rare books that you know you will not forget. I give VERY few books 5 stars, but this deserves every single one!
Jun 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
4.5 Exceeded my expectations (which had admittedly been lowered by the other recent Wharton-inspired novel, The Innocents by Francesca Segal).

Edith Wharton and her governess-turned-assistant Anna Bahlman share center stage in this novel, and it is a credit to author Jennie Fields that their stories are equally compelling. Edith has neither love, nor intimacy, nor even any longer affection for her husband Teddy; Anna does not see how Edith can treat "a good man" so carelessly and coldly. When Ed
All in all, this book was a major disappointment to me.

(view spoiler)
Stephanie Ward
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
'The Age of Desire' is a work of literary fiction that chronicles the inner life of American author Edith Wharton, her close friendship with a woman named Anna, and a scandalous love affair that threatens to destroy their bond. Being a current graduate student working on my degree in Literature, I jumped at the chance to read a book that detailed more of the private life of Wharton - one of America's greatest female writers.

Fields did a impeccable job with her novel. Her writing style flowed eff
Christy B

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
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Age Of Desire opens in Paris. Edith Wharton, who has just written The House Of Mirth, is attending a literary salon. Her eyes are drawn to a newcomer, a man named Morton Fullerton. He is charismatic, compelling, and draws the attention of men and women alike. For some reason, he seems attracted to Edith, a position a married woman in her forties is not used to. Especially one such as Edith, who has lived her life married to a man whom she has, at best, a friendship with, no love or passion. ...more
Dianne said it best: Diane S ☔
Aug 13, 2012Diane S ☔ rated it liked it
3.5 I loved the setting, tone and descriptive writing in this book. The descriptions of the homes that Wharton and her husband owned were fascinating. I enjoyed reading about the friendship between Edith and her assistant/friend, the trouble is I actually liked the friend much better than Edith. I also felt very sorry for Teddy, who really loved Edith, while she married him just because it was what people did. I also liked read
I liked this fictionalization of Edith Wharton's life and her affair with Morton Fuller. I thought Jennie Fields imagined a plausible progression for the events that affected Edith Wharton's life and the risks she took in having an extramarital affair and her motivations for doing so. I thought the relationship between Edith and Anna Bahlmann was dear and sad at the same time. I enjoyed reading about the time period and about Edith Wharton. I would have liked an author's note included to point o ...more
Rebecca Huston
I really enjoyed this novel about Edith Wharton, her husband Teddy, their friend Anna Bahlmann, and the man who messes it all up -- Morton Fullerton. The writing is beautiful and lyrical, the characters very believable and sympathetic, and the story all based in fact. While most readers will find it all slow going, that was for me part of the charm of this one, where it seems that Edith is taking forever to make up her mind -- at times I found myself thinking, go on, get on with it! -- the resul ...more
Maggie Holmes
Feb 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book does what a good book often does: it sent me off in many directions. I remember the feelings of first love, the intensity of it, that Edith experiences. (Though, I can not write about it as she does.) I loved Edith Wharton's books when I read them some 40 years ago and this book makes me want to re-read them. I'm planning a trip out to Lenox -- hopefully with my book club after we read this book. Curiously, there was an editorial in the Prov. Journal bemoaning the fact that the Common ...more
Nancy Coppola
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Favorite book this summer. Based on letters written by novelist Edith Wharton but fictionalized narrative. So engaging and well written.
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 Stars. Despite the acclaim and financial success she's received from her runaway bestseller The House of Mirth, author Edith Wharton is unhappy and restless. Trapped in a passionless marriage, barely able to tolerate the emotional needs or attentions of her husband Teddy, Edith's one outlet through her adult life has been to channel her fierce intellect and unfulfilled emotions through her writing. Her investment in her craft finally pays off with Mirth's success -- but her friendship with n ...more
May 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: firstreads-swag
I won a copy of this through FirstReads!

Oh, Edith Wharton. I must say, I'd never heard of you before. And as an English major in post-secondary, you'd think I would have. But I hadn't. Yours was a name to which I said "ohhhhh, she must be one of them." By which I mean an author of the classics, being revered and what not. So naturally, I was delighted to win a book with a main character so dear to my passion.

Actually, I was just plain delighted, period, this being my first time winning a boo
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I had a rough go with this book to start, partially because I thought the blurb was setting me up for a rosier story and what was unfolding was particularly, well, not rosy.  1907: Edith Wharton, in her late 40s, has been invigorated by Paris and most importantly, her acquaintance with the earthy, sensual Anna de Noailles and the handsome, inappropriate, and witty Morton Fullerton.  With her are her husband Teddy and her governess-turned-secretary Anna Bahlmann, who have their own complicated fe ...more
Colleen Turner
I reviewed this book for

In 1907 Paris, Edith Wharton appears to have a perfect life. She is a wealthy woman and an accomplished writer. She is able to travel to her heart’s content and divides her time between New York, Paris and a large summer home in Massachusetts. She is constantly surrounded by cultured people and accomplished friends. But a closer look behind the glamour shows an unhappy woman.

At the age of forty six, bookish, prim and somewhat prudish Edith finally e
Jo Anne B
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a story told from the point of view of two women in the early 1900s. One is Edith Wharton, a wealthy woman who gets famous after writing her first novel. She is 48 years old and stuck in a marriage to Teddy whom she had sex with once after they had been married two weeks and it hurt her so bad, they never had sex again. She had tried to ask her mother before the wedding night about sex and her mother laughed at her and then angrily told her she should already know. Well, she never found ...more
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 4 Feb 20, 2015 10:15AM  
Pairing books for Book Club 1 14 Oct 15, 2012 06:52AM  
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I love books and longed to start writing them when I was six years old. I wrote my first full- length novel in third grade. It was 365 pages! My teacher didn't have time to read it. As I am less wordy now, I hope you will find the time to read my books.

My new novel, The Age of Desire is based on the life and loves of my favorite novelist: Edith Wharton. Wharton's characters feel as real to me as t
“There is nothing one can do to delay the inevitable, and so it's best just to stand tall.” 5 likes
“But passion and pride rarely occupy the same space.” 4 likes
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