I thought this book would keep me entertained during my rehab from a Knee Replacement. But, much to my disappointment, I find the book rather stiff inI thought this book would keep me entertained during my rehab from a Knee Replacement. But, much to my disappointment, I find the book rather stiff in dialogue and it lacks the character development for which I was looking forward. Hadley, was not a heroine I could relate to, but a whiney bourgeoisie woman who seemed to defend the drunken life style in which she and her husband lived. The bull fights were well described, sometimes more than I wanted. But the beautiful Paris and it's surroundings that drew the expatriates was not given the attention it needed. I, too, found the book hard to finish because of it being flat in too many places. If one really wants to read a well written book about an American writer in Paris, read The Age of Desire, by Jennie Fields. The Paris Wife does not come close to the richness of that historical novel with a similar setting and the romantic story of popular writers near that time period. ...more
Jennie Fields draws me into her multi-layered historical novel of the Pulitizer Prize winner, Edith Wharton, in The Age of Desire. Since my viewing of
Jennie Fields draws me into her multi-layered historical novel of the Pulitizer Prize winner, Edith Wharton, in The Age of Desire. Since my viewing of Wharton’s, The Age of Innocence(movie) several years ago, as a sociology teacher, I was intrigued with her stories set and plotted in the highly stratified society of New York and Europe in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth Century. Similarly, this book can be seen in the same sociological framework, as well as a work of art.
Fields captures the time period when women normally had little education or opportunities to succeed in the publishing business and anywhere else for that matter. Using primary sources of diaries and letters recently discovered, Fields highlights Wharton’s relationship with her tutor (from her childhood) to her middle-age years, in which Anna Bahlmann was her in-house secretary/servant and confidante, who loves Edith, but sometimes disapproves of her friends and the choices she makes. Anna was always available and a crutch for Wharton during the most difficult of times.
Fields flashes scenes of Wharton’s unhappy marriage to a bi-polar husband with whom she seemed to be stuck, as many women were at that time. Women in the Upper- Class seldom had the freedom to select their life -time partners. But unlike the life that most women experienced, she lived a luxurious and an extremely active life, as an intellectual and widely traveled professional woman.
To escape her mundane marital life, Wharton traveled widely, back and forth to Europe, particularly to Paris. She kept company with other intellectuals such as Henry James and Morton Fullerton. The latter gentleman, the handsome, well-dressed writer Fullerton, who smelled of lavender, was the one she engaged with in a torrid love affair. He excited her mind as well as her sexual desires. For, it was Fullerton who brought her to multiple orgasms, which again, was seldom experienced by women at that time, as well as today. If you accept the findings of sociological surveys done in recent studies. Fields describes the love scenes with her tantalizing use of words that might excite some of the most prudish women that read it today. Her love scenes between Wharton and her lover, Fullerton, are indeed filled with descriptions of lurid desire.
Fields has a magical use of words, not only when describing Wharton’s relationships, but when she richly describes the Paris scenes and the beautiful homes where Wharton lived. In the most eloquent manner, Fields brings us to the scenes as if we were observing a movie in a tightly woven story.
I highly recommend Jennie Field’s beautifully written book, The Age of Desire, to all adults. Especially, to students of history, sociology and Edith Wharton fans.