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The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  165 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Edith Wharton, author of Ethan Frome, The House of Mirth, and other acclaimed novels, was born into a wealthy family. Beginning in childhood, Edith found ways to escape from society’s and her family’s expectations and follow an unconventional, creative path. Unhappily married and eventually divorced, she surrounded herself with male friends. She spent much of her life in P ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published August 9th 2010 by Clarion Books
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Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent Young Adult biography by Wooldridge. I knew nothing about Edith Wharton, and have only read Ethan Frome. Yet, she is one of those writers I always wanted to explore. "Keeping up with the Joneses" was a phrase that was coined to describe Edith's parents! Who knew! Wooldridge brings to life Edith during her Gilded-Age childhood in New York City and Newport, Rhode Island. I loved the descriptions of the child Edith walking from room to room making up stories when she was too yo ...more
Beth Baryon
May 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I a little bit dreaded picking up this biography. Honestly, the cover looked boring. What I found instead was a fascinating page-turner, taking me through the early 1900's Upper Class High Society in Manhattan, of course including yearly tours through Europe. Edith Wharton was totally fascinating and who knew she was actually one of THE Joneses. Probably one of my more favorite biographies. (An extra suggestion - while reading this, take breaks to watch Downton Abbey. Although set in England, it ...more
Dec 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is written for YA (that's what those in the know of Young Adult Literature call it) but I found it wonderful and touching. It's a very brief biography, but it focuses on Wharton's escape from the suffocating society world to which she was born, and her remarkable intellectual life. It's a quick read but a wonderful one, and it's a lovely volume, well-illustrated.
Feb 15, 2011 rated it liked it
I haven't read many biographies, so thought I would give this a try. I really liked The Age of Innocence and thought it would be more fun to learn more about Mrs. Wharton. The book was well-written and quoted many of her acquaintences. It was an interesting read.
Anson Cassel Mills
Jun 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Although this short, illustrated biography was published by Clarion Books, the children’s imprint of Houghton Mifflin, it is certainly suitable for adults as well—in fact, in some ways, more suitable. Neither Wharton’s uneasy accommodation to her chilly, unsympathetic mother nor Wharton’s affair with journalist Morton Fullerton are ignored, though both these life-changing relationships are treated with more restraint than would probably be the case in a biography written specifically for adults. ...more
Valeri Drach
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This biography of Edith Wharton is a great companion piece to her novels. The author does an excellent job with her correspondence, journals and writings about her from her friends and critics. Hers was a wonderful life filled with male friends who wanted to educate, banter with and in one case make love t. Henry James was her great friend and young writers like F Scott Fitzgerald worshipped her. A great read about old New York and the rich world of Edith Wharton, the woman who won the first Pul ...more
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Clear and concise, I really appreciate the sketch of Wharton's life, and it has inspired me to dig into a couple of the longer Bio's that I own about Wharton. The author is local to Richmond, Indiana. I appreciate the way that she's collected images, stories and historical research into this biography. A lovely addition to my year of reading Wharton.
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating woman author! More on Bookwinked at: ...more
La'Ilani Tukuafu
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Edith Wharton was probably the most intelligent woman of her time. In her biography, The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton by Connie Nordhielm Woolridge, Edith is raised mostly on a six-year tour of Europe with her older brothers and parents as a child. As she grows older and more mature, she becomes more and more interested in literature. In effect, she reads as many books as her parents will allow, becoming smarter and smarter as the years go by. When she and her family move back to their home in ...more
The Rusty Key
Nov 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Reviewed by: Rusty Key Guest Contributor Kate Mulley

Recommended for: Ages 11 and up. Some frank discussions of affairs and the nature of marriage, but otherwise quite tame and restrained. The feminist in me would say this is gender neutral, the realist in me says that girls will probably prefer it to boys. (hah, you could read that as girls will like this book more than they will like boys). Give this to any budding writer.

One word: Delicious.

The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton captures the essen
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for

Edith Wharton lived a privileged life. She was born into the Jones family - a wealthy family who were prominent members of New York society. From an early age, her mother knew Edith was different. Edith was shy, she admired the truth, she liked to make up stories, and she loved reading.

She spent her formative years touring Europe, which left a deep impression. Upon her return, she made her debut. In one summer she met two men. She developed a deep
Cathe Olson
Jul 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this biography about an author I didn't know much about. According to the book, Wharton defied convention to become "the most accomplished and admired American writer of her day." Before reading this biography, I had only heard of a couple of Warton's titles and hadn't realized just how much she had written--and this book has definitely inspired me to check out some of her lessor known works.

Though the book is intended for a middle/high school audience, it was definitely inter
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Edith Wharton was not very constrained by the societal mores of the gilded age. Perhaps it helped that she was very nearly above those setting the standards. You know the phrase "Keeping up with Joneses"? Edith Newbold Jones was one of those Joneses. This fast-moving biography follows Edith Wharton from her days as a little girl making up stories as she wanderer from room to room in one of her family homes through her marriage to and travels with Teddy Wharton up to the end of her life at one of ...more
Jul 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Sometimes it's nice to read a YA biography of a person if you aren't sure you really care about knowing more details about their life. The shortness of a YA biography ensures that the book will be finished and the pictures make it more interesting of a read. If I had started an adult biography of Wharton, I probably wouldn't have finished it. She is a product of a very selfish self-absorbed group of people and she in turn is a selfish and self-absorbed person. She's more concerned about being su ...more
Jul 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
"The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton" is a well-researched and entertaining biography that would be suitable for young adults and up.

Using letters, diaries and photographs, Wooldridge tells the life story of author Edith Wharton ("Ethan Frome," "The Age of Innocence") without hiding the human frailties of her subject. Wharton's affairs, less-than-desirable marriage, etc., are discussed without too much prurient detail.

Wharton came from the same type of high society families she mocks in much of he
Oct 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I know Ethan Frome, I've heard of but not read The Age of Innocence, but now I want to read it, after Wooldridge's account of Wharton's life. What an amazing, odd, and enchanted life she led. She wanted to shirk the society she was growing up in (certainly because she was well-read and enjoyed intellectual conversations) and this escape basically brought her to love Europe and to move repeatedly until building, the Mount, in Massachusetts. She was married almost 28 years but it was a somewhat di ...more
Amy Bailey
May 02, 2011 rated it liked it
This wasn't spectacular by any stretch of the imagination. I defintely admire Edith Wharton. As a child, her mother was concerned to have a daughter with a brain and ambition that extended beyond snagging a husband. Edith's brave escape is that she told everyone to go fly and kite and did as she pleased. However, that's not too hard to do when you have the opportunity to live off of your inheritance and never have to work a day in your life. Wharton still married the man she was expected to marr ...more
Jan 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
As I am a huge Edith Wharton fan, I was intrigued by this new biography for teens. I found it to be a fascinating read. Wharton’s life was one of struggle to be independent of the constraints of society, yet she also took for granted her position in that same society. Her rebellion was not so much against wealth and privilege, but against the narrow confines of what was expected of a “society lady.” The writing is straightforward, unembellished narrative, with the author allowing the fascinating ...more
Nov 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Wharton had the courage to pursue a career as a writer at a time when it was not respectable for a woman to write. By winning a Pulitzer for The Age of Innocence, she made the writing profession a respectable one for women to pursue.

I found Wooldridge's writing to be clear and engaging. The many photographs of Wharton and her beloved bachelor friends and dogs are interesting, and well-captioned.

The book is well-researched, drawing from university archives, Wharton's body of work, and other biogr
Oct 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Her life is very interesting and I learned a lot about her as well as society in the Gilded Age and World War 1. However, there was little written on her female relationships versus her male relationships. I also felt it was too contrite to write about the slew of deaths in her life only after announcing Walter Berry's and writing a good amount about his death. It's never even mentioned when her mother passes. It needs a bit more flesh to give her experiences their due.
Jan 27, 2016 rated it liked it
An interesting, if somewhat dry, examination of Wharton's life, which required a "brave escape from the expectations of the society into which she'd been born" simply because Edith was intelligent, a gift that could severely limit a woman's prospects in Wharton's day. The accessible text will appeal to fans of Wharton's novels or students investigating the writer, lifestyles of the Gilded Age, or the role of women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Jun 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My book group just read The House of Mirth, and I was intrigued to learn more about Edith Wharton....who really was an extraordinary woman. Just now I read a few of the Goodreads reviews of this biography, and discovered that it's a YA book. No wonder I found it an easy and informative read. My 5 star rating probably has less to do with the writing, and more to do with the story of Wharton's remarkable life.
Oct 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fic, teen-lit
This is a great introduction to the life of Edith Wharton with an intended audience of mature teen reader (12 -15). The author does a good job of framing Wharton's work against the backdrop of her life and the times she lived in. As an adult reader, this has convinced me to tackle the new Wharton biography.
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. Picked it up while my daughter was looking for a book on Eleanor Roosevelt. I never heard Edith's name and now I want to read her books. What a unique character and a unique time. I love that I found out where "keeping up with the Jones" came from. I highly recommend it if you like biographies or the gilded age.
Cathy Day
Dec 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mrs-cole-porter
This book casts Edith Wharton as the heroine in the story of her own life. It's intended for young adults, and, like Katie Roiphe, I think it's especially appropriate for girls who love to read and write. But I would also recommend it for adults as well looking for a very thorough yet abbreviated biographical introduction to this important writer.
Jennifer Phillips
Nov 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
As a writer, I am ashamed about how little I knew of Edith Wharton until reading this new biography. She was a woman ahead of her time and unafraid to be herself. Very inspirational. The historical images are a great addition. I've since downloaded a couple of Wharton's books in ebook format to read so I can become more familiar with her work.
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
An engaging, informative biography with lots of photos. I am a huge Wharton fan, but I still learned many new facts from this book. I particularly liked its discussion of her privileged but quirky childhood in upper class Old Guard New York and Newport and how it motivated her to become a women writer and break some firmly-set societal expectations for a young woman of her class.
Sep 20, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm not really one for YA biographies, but this one was perfect: well written, interesting, and it has piqued my interest for something more about Wharton. Unfortunately, though, I'm finding that I am even less interested in reading anything by her. It seems that all her stories (even her very early ones) end in death, doom, or destruction. Or all three.
Jan 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
3.5 stars, an interesting read. I didn't know much about Edith Wharton. I've only seen the movie, The Age of Innocence. I really liked reading about Wharton and Henry James, I loved all the photographs, and my favorite part was reading what Wharton did in France during WWI. Looking forward to reading Ethan Frome and Summer.
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this. I like learning more about the Gilded Age and reading about intellectuals during their day...Edith in Paris, France...New York, yet living a real life with complicated relationships. I now have The Age of Innocence sitting on my night stand. I want to be Connie when I grow up. :)
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Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge received a master's degree in education and library science from the University of Chicago. She has written picture books and non-fiction for children. She lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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“Egerton taught her how to approach a challenging book. She should read and reread slowly, making marginal notes when she came across something important, and mark things she didn't understand. He instructed her to think over each evening what she had read that day and jot down her ideas about it. She was a willing and eager pupil” 3 likes
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