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The Buccaneers

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  5,578 ratings  ·  407 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
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Paperback, TV Series Tie-In Edition, 414 pages
Published January 26th 1995 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1938)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Candi
"First, the Romans had come. Then the Angles, Jutes, and Saxons. Then the Danes terrorized England for three centuries. Norman pirates took the country over in 1066. Five centuries later Turks raided the Thames and took prisoners to sell in the Libyan slave-market… But never had there been any phenomenon to match this… – this ‘invasion of England by American women and their chiefs of commissariat, the silent American men’…"

This is by no means a high seas adventure story and you won’t find any sw
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Sara
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Buccaneers is Edith Wharton’s last and uncompleted novel. She had written approximately 89,000 words before her death and the novel was printed in its incomplete form by her publisher. In 1993 Marion Mainwaring, a noted Wharton scholar, completed the story, in line with notes that Wharton had left behind. She did a good job, since there is no obvious break in the voice between the beginning of the book and the end, but it seems clear to me that no one, even a great scholar, could ever know e ...more
Sarah
Apr 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Madeline
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
Issicratea
I have read most of Edith Wharton’s novels, but not The Buccaneers, perhaps because of an unconscious—and rather unsophisticated, when I think about it—distaste for unfinished works of fiction. (Stevenson’s wonderful Weir of Hermiston recently cured me of that.)

The Buccaneers was Wharton’s last novel, left unfinished at her death in 1937. Curiously, it was completed by a Wharton biographer and novelist, Marion Mainwaring, in 1993 (more on that later), so you can now read it “whole.”

One issue ab
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Misfit
Aug 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Brian Poole
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Buccaneers proved to be an interesting bookend for the career of Edith Wharton.

Wharton had completed about two-thirds of The Buccaneers when she died in 1937. For decades, it appeared in “unfinished” form. But in the early ‘90s, Wharton expert Marion Mainwaring completed the book, based on Wharton’s own high level synopsis.

The Buccaneers proved to be an apt companion piece to Wharton’s most famous novel, The Age of Innocence. Set in the same time period, it focused on a group of “new money”
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Elizabeth (Alaska)
This seemed a bit lighter than others by Wharton that I've read. Perhaps that is because this was her last novel, and unfinished. She didn't live to revise, and I think this simply her first draft. It was completed by another author. Mainwaring did a good job of this as the transition was seamless, and it wasn't until I'd read the last page that I knew where Wharton left off and Mainwaring began.

That said, the ending is weaker than what I might expect from Wharton. As with other authors I've co
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Jessica
Sep 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 18+
Shelves: fiction, classics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy Oakes
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-fiction
After reading The House of Mirth I was so depressed that I promised myself I'd never read another book by Edith Wharton, but this one turned out differently (thank god) and I couldn't put it down.

more soon but for now, it was a solidly good read.
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Lobstergirl
Oct 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: plovers
Shelves: own, fiction

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
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Susan
Jul 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dawn
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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RunRachelRun
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.
classic reverie
An unfinished work finished with class.

I was wondering how this unfinished novel of Wharton would read with a modern writer taking up the task & I was pleased with it but kept wondering how Edith would have ended it. I loved this story & found the governess a memorable character not soon to be forgotten. The Buccaneers is an unfinished work by Edith Wharton (1862-1937) which was published as that in 1938 by her publisher. That version is not at this time available on Kindle but I would be intere
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Janez
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'
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Judy
Jul 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Galileosong
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
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Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition
See discussion in the Reading for Pleasure group/Buddy Reads/July 2016
Kathryn
I was already a fan of Wharton going into this book. She writes so beautifully and has such interesting characters. She certainly captures this particular period of time well. She wrote what she knew, and her own life experiences certainly play a role in parts of this story. I adored the first 29 chapters that she wrote. It reminded me a little of Downtown Abbey.

It’s such a shame that she died and did not finish the book though. While I know that Mainwaring was an expert on Wharton and followed
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Jenn "JR"
Jun 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 Buccaneers" i
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Laura
Apr 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, american-lit
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.
Annette
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.
skein
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.
Olga
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I found the original text - before chapter 30 - to be highly enjoyable and subtle, especially at the start: on the surface, a Jane Austen-like tale of polite New York society in the 1870s, with pretty girls of marriageable age and English governesses, but with so much darkness beneath, all these shady financial dealings, betrayals, sex, and ruin. But the tacked-on completion of the unfinished novel by Marion Mainwaring struck me as crude, cringeworthy in its sentimentality, and completely unfait ...more
Emilia Barnes
This might be an odd start to Wharton, but the subject matter intrigued me after having read a non-fiction book about the very phenomenon Wharton talks of here (American heiresses who, finding no entrance into the very rigid New York social scene, instead invaded the British aristocracy). The Buccaneers is unfinished, but Wharton reads like a Victorian Austen, fully as knowing about human nature, and almost as ready to take the piss out of everybody though not quite. I really enjoyed it and it i ...more
Hilary
Jun 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Shannon
Half way through and I can't listen to this story any longer. It is so, so boring.
Ariel
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
I couldn't put this down last night; review to come.
Cassandra Louise
The story is interesting but starts out very slow. There is a clear distinction between the beginning writing of Edith Wharton and the finishing touches by Marion Mainwaring. I felt like the characters were not fully flushed out - they were almost there! - but just not quite enough. Nan was a wonderfully written draft of a true extroverted introvert. She had so much potential. Still, it was an interesting read about a poor time in English history that required explosive revival from the American ...more
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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

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