Relationships can be confusing and overwhelming, even for famed authors. Edith Wharton, the famous author had trouble with her relationships. Unhappy marriage, complicated friendship with her secretary, and a love affair gone bad with a journalist, Edith Wharton’s life was just as interesting as the characters she wrote about. In “The Age of Desire” by Jennie Fields, readers enter Edith Wharton’s and her governess, Anna Bahlmann’s worlds and discover how truly difficult relationships can be.
The novel is told from the perspectives of Edith and Anna. Anna was once Edith’s governess and eventually became her secretary and dearest friend. Anna was there with Edith throughout her unhappy childhood with a domineering mother, a disastrous and unhappy marriage with her husband Teddy Wharton, and through the successes of her novels. Their relationship is forever changed when Edith meets Morton Fullerton, a handsome young journalist who awakens Edith romantically and sexually. Anna disapproves of the relationship between Morton and Edith which causes friction in their relationship. Both women have to deal with affairs of the heart whether it be romantically or through their friendship and are forever changed by their relationship experiences. Set in Paris, Massachusetts, and all over the world and featuring famed figures of the period including the writer Henry James and Anna, Comtesse Mathieu de Noailles, Edith’s world truly comes alive.
“The Age of Desire” is a well-written and complex look at Edith and her dear friend Anna. Both women fully get their story told courtesy of the descriptive, passionate, and thoughtful writing of Fields. Edith’s story is about transformation. Readers will see her go from an unhappy and cold wife to a woman experiencing a sexual awakening. Anna’s story is moving as she is such a devoted friend and almost mother-figure to Edith, but she also has feelings that are deeply buried and painful. Edith and Anna are fascinating figures to read about.
The supporting characters are also strong. You will be frustrated and often times dislike Morton Fullerton. You will pity Teddy Wharton. You will laugh at Henry James. You will admire the Comtesse de Noailles. You’ll feel as if you truly know these characters.
“The Age of Desire” is a unique and interesting look at Edith Wharton and the woman she was. It may make you look at her novels in a different way now.
To purchase “The Age of Desire”: http://www.amazon.com/The-Age-Desire-A-Novel/dp/0143123289
For more information on Jennie Fields: http://jenniefields.com/