Read The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields Online

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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 passionatelFor fans of The Paris Wife, a sparkling glimpse into the life of Edith Wharton and the scandalous love affair that threatened her closest friendshipThey 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 in love with a dashing younger journalist, Morton Fullerton, and is at last opened to the world of the sensual, it threatens everything certain in her life but especially her abiding friendship with Anna. As Edith’s marriage crumbles and Anna’s disapproval threatens to shatter their lifelong bond, the women must face the fragility at the heart of all friendships.Told through the points of view of both women, The Age of Desire takes us on a vivid journey through Wharton’s early Gilded Age world: Paris with its glamorous literary salons and dark secret cafés, the Whartons’ elegant house in Lenox, Massachusetts, and Henry James’s manse in Rye, England.Edith’s real letters and intimate diary entries are woven throughout the book. The Age of Desire brings to life one of literature’s most beloved writers, whose own story was as complex and nuanced as that of any of the heroines she created....

Title : The Age of Desire
Author :
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ISBN : 9780670023684
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Age of Desire Reviews

  • Cynthia
    2019-04-27 23:49

    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 salons. The references to France and her trips to the countryside in her car were interesting because it was such a new thing during that period.Wharton’s relationship with her husband and with a long time, devoted friend were depressing. If they were portrayed accurately Wharton isn’t shown in a positive way. The only way I was able force myself to finish this book was in the hopes of learning more about Wharton. The reward wasn’t worth the slough.This review is based on an e-galley provided by the publisher.

  • Sharlene
    2019-05-18 22:57

    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 Wharton, our main character, and then forgiving her a few chapters later. Ahhhh, such is life is it not? I truly enjoyed the storyline that surrounded Anna, her employee and best friend. Anna was so kind that you truly find yourself thinking that she should find her own happiness in which she does...even if one didn't see it.I do not wish to ruin the story but will be encouraging my friends to pick up this book when it goes on sale in August! Thank you so much for the opportunity to read this and the patience to wait for me to finish so I could post my review.

  • Kory Wells
    2019-05-02 22:40

    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 and knitting won't quell. In her mid-forties and married "for all the wrong reasons" to the kindly but morose Teddy, she increasingly senses that something is missing from her life. At a salon in Paris, she catches the gaze of that something in the blue, brazen eyes of Morton Fullerton, an American journalist for the Times of London. And now Edith knows: "She wants something, but is she willing to take the risk to find it?"Anna Bahlman is practically famous by association to Edith, she tells herself. She takes a quiet pleasure in that fact, knowing that when she types Edith's words, when she suggests a little change or comments on a developing plot, she is becoming part of literary history. She is devoted to Edith, but it pains her to see the distance between Edith and Teddy. Any woman should be happy to call Teddy her husband. Anna once told Teddy that herself. Anna and Teddy have had a special bond since that long-ago conversation, but now both Whartons are becoming more difficult since Morton Fullerton entered the picture. Anna would never have imagined it after all these years, but might she have to start over - at sixty?The Age of Desire, the story of a love affair and sexual awakening informed by the letters of Edith Wharton, is also the story of a friendship defined by the societal roles and conventions of the early 20th century. The novel’s self-assured style is built on meticulous research, skillful characterization, period-perfect pacing, and phrasing and metaphors to make even a poet envious - for example, every word that Henry James, who once stammered, now speaks “bears the weight of a dictionary falling off a shelf.” This novel is remarkable for both its eloquent evocation of an era and for its erotic scenes. But its real risk – and triumph – is in its consummate consideration of the emotional complexities of an affair and its aftermath between both lovers and friends. Of this, Edith would be proud.-- review of advance reader copy --

  • Jaylia3
    2019-05-07 01:40

    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, unhappily married Edith is passionately in love with the charming but capricious Morton Fullerton.The Age of Desire incorporates excerpts from Edith’s actual diaries and letters she wrote to Fullerton that he was supposed to destroy but didn’t. It captures the swings of bliss and despair Edith felt as she dealt with her increasingly mentally ill husband and the lover who awakened new worlds for her but couldn’t be relied upon. Author Jennie Field was also able to make use of the 135 letters from Edith to Anna that were discovered in 2009. Those letters and interviews with Anna’s great-grandniece helped Field create an Anna character who felt plausible to me, with complex feelings and motivations. Anna’s part of the narrative shows the events from her troubled but loyal perspective and through her the reader sees something of what a servant’s life was like during an age of aristocrats. I have the thick biography of Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee, a wonderful book that I’ve dipped into but haven’t managed to finish. This novel is more accessible, a sort of Edith Wharton lite, though its treatment of her life is thoughtful and nuanced, not superficial. As an added plus, the reader is treated to literary salon tête-à-têtes, an aging but still eloquent Henry James, and the grit and glamour of Gilded Age Paris.

  • Eliza
    2019-05-02 03:40

    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 word "beloved" or "longing" one more time I thought I'd throw my iPad across the room); the characters are flat and seem driven by unexplained motivations. Fields tries to bring Wharton--supposedly a larger-than-life personality--to life, but just can't do it. She comes across as a capricious, selfish, unpleasant person--which she might have been, but then why did everyone want to be with her? Nor can she enliven Anna, nor Teddy, nor even Morton the bounder--though he ends up being by far the most interesting character.This is all particularly sad since Wharton's writing is the crux of her life (besides, perhaps, the torrid affair described in the novel), so to have it and her life addressed by a writer of such limited means is just wrong. I am surprised that the NYT reviewed TAOD, it seems so unworthy to me. And not a bad review at that--the biggest criticism is that Fields didn't understand or convey the social context in which this all took place. Well, yes, that's true, but hardly the worst aspect of the book, I think.All that said, I am now excited to go back and read more of Wharton. I suppose that's all to the good, then.

  • Erin
    2019-04-26 04:49

    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 challenges in making this story work lay in recreating a world before the success of the women's rights movement. I mean, we've all read the history books and can recite the injustices off the cuff, but can we really claim to understand the mentality of the period? By and large, I think the answer is no which leads me to the extraordinary efforts put forth by Fields in this piece. Edith's emotional and sexual awakening is the heart of this novel. Morality aside I loved watching this character come into her own understanding of womanhood and the way that journey reminded me how fortunate I am to live in a time and place that encourages women to be embrace and enjoy their femininity. Another great thing about this book is the contrast between Edith and Anna. These women have very different values and views of the world. Telling the story through both balanced the piece very nicely, but it also allowed readers to really explore and understand the depth, intricacy and complexity of the friendship that existed between the two.Not finding much to appreciate in Teddy or Fullerton, I was at first concerned by my lack of enthusiasm for the men in Edith's life, but as I continued to read, as Fields' thesis began to come through, I realized they themselves weren't all that important. This wasn't in any way their story. Taking inspiration from Edith's own letters, The Age of Desire is an elegantly luxurious tale of devotion, passion and the changing conventions of the early twentieth century.

  • Erika Robuck
    2019-05-12 03:04

    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's only joys come from her writing, Paris, and her dear friends, most notably her loyal secretary, Anna Bahlmann.When Edith meets Morton Fullerton--a journalist with a bad reputation and considerable charm--everything still and secure in her life becomes unsettled by the effect he has on her. As she finds herself opening to new experiences and awakening under his attention, Anna also finds herself entangled in various relationships that betray the deep connection she has to her employer. As the years progress through the narrative--told in Edith's and Anna's alternating points of view--the stories converge in both tragic and touching ways.I did not know much about the personal life of Edith Wharton before reading THE AGE OF DESIRE, but the novel has sent me on a quest to learn more. I have spent hours sifting through photographs of those depicted in the story, have revisited some of Mrs. Wharton's novels on my shelves, and long to go to The Mount, Wharton's home in the Berkshires. Fields' interpretation of the characters brings them vividly to life, and moves the reader to anger, frustration, and adoration regarding their decisions, their mistakes, and their charity. Edith Wharton was clearly a complicated woman, and steals the limelight, but the heart of the novel lies with her stalwart secretary and friend, Anna.For its enthralling portrayals of romance, friendship, and heartbreak amid well-rendered period settings, I give THE AGE OF DESIRE my highest recommendation. If you enjoyed THE PARIS WIFE, you will delight in this novel.

  • Eve
    2019-05-16 03:52

    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 a thoughtful reader wouldn’t need spelled out, and lots of “telling” as opposed to showing. We were constantly told how someone felt about an interaction or event, rather than showing a character’s reaction and letting the reader draw her own conclusions. If the subject matter weren’t so adult, I’d have thought this book was intended for a much younger, completely unsophisticated audience. I’m disappointed to report that while the relationship between Edith and Anna is indeed an interesting one and worth exploring, I didn’t feel this book did it justice.

  • Laura Lee
    2019-05-17 20:40

    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 I think she was captured well by the author. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction!

  • Deborah
    2019-04-25 23:45

    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 the writing and a certain flow to it that put me in mind of her writings, as well as that of Henry James. Mrs. Wharton, herself, was never far from being controlled in her emotions, and the novel itself was written in this tone. It created a setting for the story that held it true to the places and times the characters lived and loved. There is a tension in the love life of Edith and her journalist love interest that caused me to be in mind of my first loves. That push-pull of great passion with an uncertainty of the other's feelings. And, when the great love develops, there is the ever present desire never to be parted from him no matter what the cost. In Edith's life there was a cost but never one she wasn't willing to pay. Running in tandem to her affair with the journalist, Morton Fullerton, is the deep love/friendship connection she has with her secretary, Anna. This other love is beautifully and stealthily handled by Ms Fields, and is deeply moving. Her husband, Teddy, is the other link in the chain featured in the book. His life ran the borders of both these capable and beautiful women. I couldn't put this book down. It walked me through the life of Edith Wharton and her ever valuable "secretary" and best friend Anna, who was the help and assistant for her wonderful books. I loved that Ms Fields was so adept at capturing the spirit of the Age and of the primary characters. I felt I knew Mrs. Wharton better and came to understand her in a different way. You'll enjoy this novel. It's a serious book in many ways, as is any book that seeks to display the truth about its characters and provide a living, important storyline. Jennie Fields is a fabulous author; capable, interesting and worthy. I cannot say more than to highly recommend this sensuous, secretive novel to you! 5 stars Deborah/The Bookish Dame

  • Nancy
    2019-04-21 03:58

    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 thatdidn'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 demonstrate any real interest or curiosity in the lives of others;. . . She had zero compassion for her husband's mental illness and suffering; and,. . . She had virtually no control over her own behavior or emotions.How on earth could these personality traits have combined to create such a strong, insightful writer? I was baffled, bored, and annoyed with Wharton (and Jennie Fields).I have read some of Wharton's (perhaps four or five)books and was almost paralyzed by the pain experienced by her characters. How could the woman I described above have the skill to make me feel that way? My answer: something was wrong with the portrait drawn in this novel.

  • Shan
    2019-05-08 01:41

    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 lost patience with nearly every character. It did, however, make me want to revisit all of Edith Wharton's actual works, so there's that!

  • Mari
    2019-05-19 04:46

    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!

  • Jenny
    2019-04-22 03:03

    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 Edith meets and begins a friendship and then a relationship with American journalist Morton Fullerton, Anna's disapproval - though barely expressed - threatens the women's lifelong friendship. However, as Teddy becomes moody, unpredictable, and eventually violent and irresponsible, Anna takes Edith's side again, and Edith, in turn, eventually concludes her affair with Fullerton.Edith's decisions are not without consequences, but given the constrictions on women at the time, and her own mother's icy contempt (in part a mask for her own shame or ignorance, at least on the topic of marital relations), it is difficult for the reader to judge her harshly. Even Anna - though she intuits Fullerton's true character immediately - wants most of all for Edith to be happy.It is not an action-packed narrative, though there is much travel - mostly between Paris, New York, and Massachusetts, though Anna has adventures of her own in Europe and visits her family in Missouri. There are also letters and journal entries throughout, some (all?) Wharton's own; Fields weaves these in so effortlessly that they blend with her own beautiful and observant writing.I would recommend The Age of Desire to lovers of history and literature (Henry James is also a character), and those who enjoyed Wharton's own The Age of Innocence, Paula McLain's The Paris Wife, Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach and Selden Edwards' The Little Book. Quotes:"So vigorously will I lean on life,So strongly will I hold and embrace it,That before I lose the sweetness of dayIt will be heated from my touch." ("Imprint," Anna de Noailles, p. 47)"What can be more tragic than someone destroying his own chance at happiness? It's the classic theme. The seductive glow of the wrong option. Wrong options always seem to have ribbons on them for me." (Fullerton, p. 50)...restlessness without bravery means dissatisfaction. She wants something, but is she willing to take the risk to find it? (Edith, 66)She feels dented by him. He marks her soul more than anyone she's ever known. (Edith, 86)To get just what one wants when one wants it: has it ever happened to her before? How rare, how deeply satisfying it feels...she feels so utterly understood. (Edith, 129)"I should like to be to you, friend of my heart, like a touch of wings brushing by you in the darkness, or like the scent of an invisible garden, that no one passes on an unknown road at night." (Edith, 131)"The first time I was able to read a book, I thought, This is what I want to do every day for the rest of my life. I lose myself in reading." "I find myself in reading!" (Fullerton and Edith, 132)"If only one could put a day into a potion and drink it whenever one likes," Henry says. "I would choose today..." (Henry James, 179)And why should we worship purity, Edith wonders? Her own purity, or at least her blindness to the sensual, has happily and finally been removed like a stone from her shoe. An ocean can part her from Morton, and time can sway his heart from hers, but nothing can take away the power of the knowledge he's given her or the exquisiteness of its memory. (Edith, 193)...her letters begin as one long howl of pain....Then somehow, she gathers herself...just to undercut the obvious grief written all over the first page. (Edith, 212)Edith was born to be a lady. And a lady never pursues, never complains, never makes a scene and certainly never makes a fool of herself. (256)She knows she must imprint this moment on her memory like a painting seen at auction but bought by someone else. (Edith, 305)She has never been able to hide her feelings from him. She has never learned to dissemble. (Edith, 315)...as a reflection is often infinitely more beautiful than the object it reflects. (Edith, 315)Her joy has nowhere to go if she can't share it with him! (334)But now, she feels nothing but the steady pound of her breaking heart. (336-337)How ironic that a friendship so unwavering is the one more easily taken for granted. (346)Perhaps there were no right options. Perhaps there never are. (346)

  • Stephanie Ward
    2019-04-29 01:06

    '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 effortlessly and I was transported back in time alongside Edith from the very first page. The descriptions of the time and the various settings of the novel were done in such a way that I could simply close my eyes and I could vividly imagine the scene unfolding around me.The characters in the book were very realistic and believable. They all had unique personalities and flaws that made them easy to identify with - I felt as if I knew them all personally, like I was taking part in the narrative myself. The author wrote the character of Wharton with such earnestness that even her mistakes and character flaws make the reader love her and sympathize with her. We feel her every emotion with intensity and vigor. All the characters are written with this amount of depth, so the heroine doesn't feel over-developed and the other characters are just as rounded, which I feel make the story all the more enchanting. The novel swept me away from the first page and didn't release it's hold until the last word. There aren't many times when a piece of literature makes a lasting impression on a reader, but this is one that I will be thinking and speaking about for a long time to come. Fields did a wonderful job bringing not only the past to life, but making an iconic American figure come alive before our very eyes. It is an enthralling look into history and a beautifully written piece of literary fiction. I highly recommend this novel to lovers of literary and historical fiction.Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies
    2019-04-20 01:01

    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 used Wharton's diaries to weave a tale based on her life. We find out that she didn't have the marriage of her dreams and also that she had a governess turned secretary that she was quite close to. We learn about both women but the bulk of the story belongs to Edith. Edith married young and according to her she made a bad choice. She grows to pretty much despise her husband who she has almost nothing in common with and who suffers from melancholia. Edith writes her books and does her thing and comes to meet a man named Morton Fullerton to which she falls in love with. He admires her just the same and the 60% of what I read revolves around their affair. And also that the secretary, Anna, disapproves.Anna also has feelings for Edith's husband but keeps her feelings to herself. Sounds really good right? It was.. to a fault. For me there were just too many passages where Edith is just meandering in her head. I'm thinking the author is trying to set up a lot of tension because nothing physical happened until half way through but I just got a point where if that's all the story is about- Edith having an affair- then I'm just like, well get on with it already. To me, the greatest story (so far in my reading career) that is mostly about tension and suspense in a relationship was Gone With The Wind. I sat on the edge of my seat wondering if Rhett and Scarlet would be finally getting together but this one, maybe i'll regret not finishing it but for now I've moved on. There are just too many stories calling my name that my brain and heart want to chew on.

  • Christy B
    2019-04-22 02:54

    3.5The 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 the settings. Paris in the first few decades of the 20th century is among my favorite time periods – the glittery world of art and literature, all told from the point-of-view of one of America's greatest writers.The characterizations of Edith and Anna, along with the characters of Morton, Edith's husband Teddy, and famous author Henry James (among others) are told true to form and realistically. And the time period was beautifully captured without stuffing details down your throat. The descriptions of the French countryside was among my favorites. Some of the descriptions, however, such as the times when Edith and Morton were together, were a bit flowery, but not overly so.Edith once described Morton as 'the love of her life,' but if he was really like how he was in the book, then I can't help but think, “What was she thinking?” However, this was a fictional characterization, and not 100% accurate, I'm guessing. Their affair was not 'true love' since it was obvious that Morton was not in love with her. It was definitely more of a lustful affair.Definitely worth a read to those who love the time period, and those who love Wharton's work, like myself. I've read three of her novels prior to this, and I'm only more motivated to read more of her work.

  • Sandie
    2019-04-26 23:04

    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. The book follows the unfolding of several related tales. There is the lifelong friendship between Edith and her governess, Anna, who stayed on with her for life, serving as her secretary and first reader. There is the thread of Teddy Wharton, who becomes mentally ill as the book progresses, leading to constant worry. Then there is the love affair that blossoms between Wharton and Fullerton, where Edith learns to love and the joy of sexual bliss for the first time in her life.Jennie Fields has written a compelling book about Wharton, who is a familiar figure in American literature, one of the first successful American women authors. It is a portrait of the life of an upper class woman, who winters in Paris and spends the summer on a palatial American estate, who is friends with Henry James and other famous individuals of her time. The book follows the facts of Wharton's life faithfully, and as Fullerton refused to destroy Edith's letters, even has the validity of including those private thoughts from her. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction, and those interested in life in the upper echelons of American society, the American Downton Abbey.

  • Lydia Presley
    2019-05-03 03:02

    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 letters and diary entries, Jennie Fields paints a picture of Edith that, while not always complementary, showcases well the extraordinary strength and will that Wharton had. How difficult it must have been, to be writing books like she wrote in a world dominated by male authors. But she did, and as a result of all of the pain of her personal life, her heartbreak, and her desire for more, we received some of the most masterful pieces of fiction. And Jennie Fields ... how beautifully written was this novel? I was worried that it would get confusing, since the changes of perspective were not what I've come to expect from books like this, but it flowed so well and I moved from viewpoint to viewpoint without feeling the slightest hitch. This book unfolded in my mind like a movie. That's some fantastic writing there, my friends.

  • DeB MaRtEnS
    2019-05-17 00:03

    Dianne said it best: Diane S ☔Aug 13, 2012Diane S ☔ rated it liked it3.5 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 reading about her books and how they had been ignored for so many years until the publication of "The House of Mirth", which garnered much attention in the literary world. The literary scene and the cafes in France, the salons and the appearance of Henry James all made this a notable read. The descriptive writing and the Paris scene was by far my favorite parts of this book. Will definitely watch for this author's next work, (less)flag1 like · Unlike · comment · see review

  • Barb
    2019-05-01 05:03

    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 out what was taken from Wharton's letters and journals and what was imagined by Fields.Take a look at the fabulous photos by Annie Leibovitz in Vogue Magazine where she recreates images from Wharton's life.http://www.imageamplified.com/2012/08...

  • Rebecca Huston
    2019-05-13 20:46

    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 results of all that dithering more than made up for it. All in all, this got four stars from me along with a recommendation. For the longer review, please go here:France -- http://www.epinions.com/review/the_ag...

  • Maggie Holmes
    2019-05-09 03:48

    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 Core has removed Edith Wharton from the list of authors high school students will read. I agree that she should still be on the list!

  • NerdGirlBlogger
    2019-05-15 03:53

    Sometimes, you are better off knowing less about your favorite authors. Oh, Edith Wharton ...Not only is this a good book about the life and loves of Edith Wharton, you can also try to win a copy of it from me via my blog, The Girl from the Ghetto.Win 1 of 2 copies of The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields.Open to U.S. residents only. Giveaway ends 8/10/12 at 10 p.m.Enter here:http://thegirlfromtheghetto.wordpress...

  • Nancy Coppola
    2019-04-27 21:52

    Favorite book this summer. Based on letters written by novelist Edith Wharton but fictionalized narrative. So engaging and well written.

  • Ruth
    2019-05-13 05:01

    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 noted literary elites like Henry James and her ability to enjoy the accouterments of wealth and privilege abroad do little to quell her insistent longing for more, for a connection capable of captivating her entire being. When she meets journalist Morton Fullerton, she's entranced by his manner and flattered by his singular attention. What starts as a stimulating intellectual connection blossoms into an affair that threatens to destroy all Edith holds dear. Her growing obsession with Morton and the undeniable passions he awakens within her once emotionally void existence quickly becomes a drug Edith is loathe to live without. But the very society that Edith deconstructs in her novels, the very world whose consumption of her prose enables her lifestyle, is left shaken to the core by her affair, and faced with the risk of losing everything Edith must decide what kind of life she's willing to fight to claim as her own.Though I have little knowledge of Edith Wharton's personal life and only a passing acquaintance with her fiction, I love the Gilded Age and turn-of-the-century history and was intrigued to learn more of Wharton's life. However, I must admit to being less than enamored with Edith's story. From the novel's opening pages and first-person, present tense narration I knew I was going to have issues. First-person, present tense is one of the least desirable narrative forms in my view, resulting in clunky, awkward sentences and plodding prose, slowing the forward momentum of the plot to a crawl.And then there's Edith. While I don't expect to like or agree with every protagonist I meet within the pages of a novel, it helps if on some marginal level at best that I can sympathize with their struggle or relate to their point-of-view -- and on that score, Edith leaves me cold. There is rich material to mine during this time frame -- not only Edith's personal life and position as a pioneering female author, but the social restrictions of the time period, particularly relevant as to the proscribed roles of women, is rife with potential when exploring the life of one who struggled to fit within the generally accepted mold. Edith's affair with Morton, only confirmed decades after her death with the release of her letters, is a scenario ripe with juicy dramatic possibilities. But if the Edith found within the pages of this novel is a reflection of the real-life woman, I have next to no sympathy for the situation in which she finds herself here -- a situation that results a rapidly disintegrating marriage, that, given her husband's struggles with mental illness and depression, is only exacerbated by her selfish, singled-minded pursuit of a playboy reporter who turns this would-be intelligent author into a simpering fool. There is nothing remotely compelling about the woman Edith becomes when in thrall to Morton's dubious "charms."The one bright spot in the narrative is Edith's friend and secretary, her one-time governess Anna. Anna is a sensitively-realized, semi-tragic figure -- a thoughtful examination of a woman's fate when she finds herself older, single, and responsible for her own support and well-being, particularly in a world that assumes a woman's role and support are conditional on her eventual (assumed) marriage. It's fascinating to consider that this unassuming woman may likely have played an important role in shaping Wharton's fiction by serving as her first reader. But more than that, their friendship, in all of its messed up, unequal glory, is a strikingly authentic -- albeit tragic -- chapter in Edith's life. While Anna was certainly not perfect, she did at least strive to be a constant friend -- and it is both heart-breaking, maddening, and humbling to conceive of her loyalty to her erstwhile pupil who would have done well to heed her faithful friend's counsel. I would've loved a novel entirely focused on Anna and her role vis-a-vis Edith's writing, as well as her family life and experiences -- she is a woman of whom I would love to know more.There is a lot of potential here -- the tension between passion versus duty, personal desire versus social acceptability -- but the resulting tale left me cold. Edith's "struggles" seem primarily self-induced, and while her marriage to Teddy, given his mental instability, would've certainly been difficult even were they a love match, the manner in which is she abandons her marriage wholesale -- while determined to stay in it -- was frankly grating. By contrast, those surrounding Edith -- from Anna to Henry James -- are fascinating. Fields has a knack for portraying the mores and manners of the time period, and should she elect to stay within the turn-of-the-century for further fictional endeavors, featuring more palatable protagonists, there is much potential to be had. While The Age of Desire didn't resonate with me as I'd hoped, I suspect more avid fans of Edith Wharton will find much of interest within its pages. A challenging effort personally, but I am happy to have expanded my knowledge of this ground-breaking woman and her times.

  • Amber
    2019-04-20 04:05

    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 book from FirstReads. I was so super happy when I woke up in the morning to the e-mail "You won!". I posted about it on Facebook. I cheered. I waited eagerly for the book. And waited. And waited. It actually came later, after other contest books I'd won. Shame on you Penguin...So I dove in immediately, eager to prove I am awesome at reviewing. That and I had an *~obligation~* to read it. As a bibliomaniac, I like to buy books simply because they are ***pretty*** and they are books~~ ... and I never read them! I just leave them on the shelf and take some crappy YA fiction out of the library, and since the library has a time limit, and MY books do not, alas, they go unread. is the weird emphasis working, cuz I'm hoping to convey my personality hereBut The Age of Desire was not the case. I was sucked into Wharton's world immediately. I could not sing the praises of Jennie Fields enough (at this point). Oh the places she went! I loved her so. She was like me, if I was a writer, and rich, and could travel the world. She was a strong, independent woman, who did her own thing. I dug that she wore the pants in the relationship. I admire women like that and it's nice to see they exist, fictional or otherwise.But then some other obligation or fascinating book called me away. Or perhaps I couldn't bear the idea of parting with wonderful Mrs. Wharton and her beautiful rented apartment and her famous friends and all the men in love with her. I couldn't bear that it would end. So the book was put down and I traversed other fictional worlds.Eventually I returned. And that was a mistake. I should have left this book unfinished.(view spoiler)[Edith falls in love with the charming Morton Fullerton and loses herself. She gets bitchy and impatient with her husband, who goes in and out of hysteric fits. She treats her dear friend Anna like dirt. Which was SUPER idiotic, as Edith was very picky and no one else understood her crap penmanship and ideas and was a proper editor like Anna. So Anna, good on her, was like FUCK OFF EDITH in her quiet little way and then Edith had to suffer and I smiled. (hide spoiler)]Which shouldn't be the case because I loved Edith! But her change in personality because of that major life event just made me smile when everybody treated her like dirt. And even though a small part of me wished the best for her, I also thought she dragged things out wayyyy too much.And that was more Fields' fault than Edith. I think there were many different ways this book could have gone, but she lost touch and tried to make the writing too pretty and sexy-intellectual, and as a result the story and characterization suffered. And as a reader knows, good writing only goes so far.I look forward to Fields' other book, Lily Beach, which I purchased on a whim, after reading the summary. It sounds like she was trying to make Edith more like her main character, a sexually liberated woman coming of age, from that story, but fell flat halfway through.All in all, I get the feeling Edith wasn't like this. There were parts where I cheered and said yes, this has got to be her. But like other readers said, if she was such a nasty bitch, why did everyone love her so? Things just don't add up.3/5 (ONLY BECAUSE OF THE BEGINNING)

  • Audra (Unabridged Chick)
    2019-05-09 04:06

    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 feelings for each other.  As Edith pursues an emotional, and then physical, affair with Fullerton, her life becomes unsurprisingly complicated.I only have the scantest familiarity with Wharton's life so almost everything that unfolded was a surprise to me (my ARC didn't include any sort of Author's or Historical Note to outline what was invented or conjecture and what was historical, which sort of bugged me.).One of the challenges of historical fiction is that the author essentially has an outline to stick to, and the skill is in making what we know happened feel believable in context of the story the author has told, the characters they've painted. We know Anna remained with Edith through World War I; clearly devoted to each other, recently it has come out that Anna had an immense hand in shaping Edith as a writer.  Fields' articulation of Wharton felt right to me -- imperious, selfish, emotional stunted, self absorbed to the point of being cruel -- and so, her treatment of Anna seemed very possible.  However close she and Anna were, Wharton strikes me as someone who always perceived help as the help, and so when she dismissed or sent Anna away, I believed that.  What I couldn't quite buy is why Anna kept returning to her.  Fields includes letters between them -- I'm unsure if they're real or penned by her for the book -- that evoke an emotional tenderness, but when they interacted in person, I felt the scenes swayed between coziness and coldness.  Edith with Fullerton was pathetic; I was often reminded of The Countess DeLave from The Women.  What she saw as a life-changing romance was really something sadder, and it took me a while to get that Fields wasn't holding back in showing that.  (She painted Fullerton so slimy I wanted to shake Edith -- he's obviously a cad! -- but once I realized this novel wasn't supposed to be a romance about the two of them, I could enjoy Fullerton's behavior.)  Much of Fields' characterizations of the players was unflattering, and I appreciated that -- I still liked them -- but they felt appropriately pig-headed, selfish, and self-absorbed. (Vindictively, I liked Edith's cold pragmatism toward her husband at the end; male writers are always putting their wives away. So lovely to see the tables turned!)I stayed up all night to read this one, compulsively, really, I just couldn't stop, it was potato chip fun.  Certainly more on the chick lit spectrum of historical fiction, this offers some racy sexy scenes, armchair travel, wonderful descriptions of Gilded Age life, and a maddening look at a fascinating author.

  • Colleen Turner
    2019-04-18 20:39

    I reviewed this book for www.luxuryreading.com.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 experiences the deep flush and electricity of pure passion in arms of a charasmatic journalist named Morton Fullerton and, for the first time in her life, feels truly happy. However this untoward love affair does not sit well with everyone and begins to drive a wedge between Edith and her governess turned secretary/confidante Anna Bahlmann as well as begins to drive her husband, Teddy Wharton, even further into his own personal madness. How much is Edith willing to risk for a love affair, and a man, that doesn’t turn out to be all she hoped for?The Age of Desire is the first novel I can think of that is beautifully written and that I enjoyed but that presents a main character that I cannot help but dislike. Edith is spoiled, prideful, over dramatic and impatient with anyone that does not do what she wants when she wants it. Her disgust for her poor husband, Teddy, is quite sad as he seems to really love her and allowed her to set the rules of their marriage, which basically meant she put up with him only when she was required to. The loving and loyal Anna, who is by far the most sympathetic and enjoyable character, even experiences Edith’s cruelty when Anna cannot bring herself to condone Edith’s harsh treatment of Teddy and her affair with the equally selfish Morton Fullerton. Anna’s reward for her concern for Edith is to be sent away from the one place she has always felt at home: by Edith’s side. Even when Edith makes an effort to make amends for her past wrongdoings at the end of the book it doesn’t seem to be wholly unselfish and doesn’t really do much to change my opinion of her.With all this said about Edith, The Age of Desire is still remarkably entertaining. The writing is lyrical and quite beautiful and it is easy to dip into the glitz and glamour of the time and places described. All of the characters, regardless of their importance, feel very real and true to the time period. Whether you like them or not, they are nothing if they are not entertaining!Never having read any of Edith Wharton’s books and knowing nothing of her life or circumstances, it was very interesting getting a peak into the mind of the woman behind classics like The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth and definitely prompts me to want to read her novels now. The author does not provide an author’s note explaining what is fact and what is fiction in The Age of Desire, but it would still be intriguing to read Ms. Wharton’s books and try to decipher what parts of her life she included in these stories.

  • Mo
    2019-05-03 03:38

    All in all, this book was a major disappointment to me.(view spoiler)[The Good* The book jacket illustration is perfection. It drew me like a moth to flame. It stopped me dead in my tracks, and said “You MUST read me!”* It was wonderful being able to immerse myself in the language of this book. It was beautifully written. And, of course, it didn’t hurt that there were excerpts from original letters written by Edith Wharton.* I love that the author slipped in the conversation between the Comtesse de Noailles, Edith and other guests at a dinner party as to why the Nobel Prize for Literature had never yet been given to a women. Of course, Edith Wharton was the first female to win it, several years later. I appreciate irony.The Bad* Edith Wharton has been reduced to an extremely unlikable, disagreeable, pathetic object of pity and scorn.* There was not a single likeable character in the entire book, with the possible exception of Henry James (and we don’t get to see much of him).* This book DRAGGED on and on. There were 200 pages of verbal foreplay, and by that time I was ready to smack Edith upside her head. Her continual lamentations became too much to bear. I was bored to tears.* The angst, the angst, the ANGST. Every character was whiney and miserable. Except for Morton Fuller, and we never really discover anything about him and his motivations. I found it hard to believe that he walked into that party, took one look at Edith, and was smitten.* Anna Bahlmann also was annoying. Could anyone really have been that selfless, especially in the face of Edith’s overwhelming selfishness and cruelty? I wanted to slap her too. What a doormat.* Unfortunately, the author chose to write this book in the present tense. My mind kept converting it to the past tense, I just couldn’t help it. It seriously interrupted the flow for me. Sometimes different isn’t better, it’s just different.The Ugly* Why, oh why did the author have her characters discuss the ending of ‘The House of Mirth’ and ruin it for me? I HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK YET! She could have given away anything else about the book, but to give away the ending!!! I guess I won’t bother reading it now, even though I was really looking forward to it. DAMN!NOTE TO AUTHOR: It appears that your proofreader missed something on page 307.When others are in a panic, one must keep one’s wits. She learned this long ago in the days when Lucretia would fly off the handle at Mr. Wharton, and Anna would softly, sweetly draw Edith into another room.I am fairly certain that Edith’s mother would have no reason to fly off the handle at Edith’s husband, especially since I infer that Edith was still a child and had not yet married. Surely you meant Lucretia’s husband Mr. Jones? (hide spoiler)]