by Jennie Fields
Twitter Hashtag: #AgeOfDesireTour
Published (paperback): 2013
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Biographical, France, Historical, Women's Fiction
Paperback: 384 pages
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A lush, involving novel set in the early years of the 20th century, The Age of Desire is the story of writer Edith Wharton’s illicit affair and sexual awakening at the age of 45 with journalist Morton Fullerton. Her liaison impacted many lives, including Edith’s well-meaning but feckless husband Teddy, and her loyal secretary and dearest friend, Anna Bahlmann.
Set mostly in Paris, it recaptures an era of literary salons, chauffeured motorcars and veiled meetings in secret cafés, the devastating Paris Flood of 1910, and the dark beginnings of World War I.
About the Author
Born in the heart of the heart of the country – Chicago -- Jennie Fields decided to become a writer at the age of six and produced her first (365 page!) novel when she was eleven. She received her MFA at the Iowa Writers Workshop and published her first short stories while spending a postgraduate year at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. But needing to feed her family in the era just post-Mad Men, she became an early female copywriter at an advertising agency, soon rising to creative director and moving to New York. In her 32-year advertising career, she wrote and produced many well-known and award-winning commercials. People even now can embarrass her by telling her they grew up dancing to one of her McDonalds’ jingles.
Still, fiction was her great love. Writing during her lunch hour and after her daughter’s bedtime she penned her first novel, Lily Beach, which was published by Atheneum in 1993 to much acclaim. Since then, she’s written three more novels including Crossing Brooklyn Ferry and The Middle Ages. Her latest, The Age of Desire, is a biographical novel based on the life of the author dearest to her heart, Edith Wharton. An Editor’s Choice of the New York Times Book Review, it describes Wharton’s mid-life love affair with a younger, manipulative man. Why the affinity to Wharton? Because she wrote about people attempting to break society’s expectations for them – which is something Fields has been yearning to do all her life.
PeekAbook: listen to a reading by the author
Quote to note:
De Noailles shrugs and nibbles at the edge of a petit four. "There are so few of us who write, Madame Wharton. Or perhaps many women write–but only a few put their work up for public inspection. Are you mostly read by men or women?"
"I don't know."
"I'd wager women. Women read with their hearts. They're more eager to journey on words, because their lives are narrower."
-chapter 3, page 38
Friendship, love and career swirl in this engrossing and enjoyable read about a female author of the early 1900s.
Fun find: Edith Wharton themed photo shoot and article about her in Vogue, September 2012
Writer Jeffrey Eugenides plays Henry James;
actor Elijah Wood plays Wharton's chauffeur; and
actor Jack Huston plays Morton Fullerton
-see more pics here
* review copy courtesy of Age of Desire tour - check out the other stops for more details on this book and goodies sponsored by Historical Virtual Book Tours