Thursday, August 29, 2013

HFVBT: Age of Desire by Jennie Fields--Review and {Giveaway} #AgeOfDesireTour


My thoughts
I sometimes find myself enjoying historical fiction based on authors more due to the simple fact that I know so little about their lives. As a former history major and history buff, I have read about numerous historical figures and so, I know at least something about them (usually) before embarking on a historical read about them. However, in the case of most authors of the past, I have not read much about them and so reading a novel about them is like a journey of discovery.

What I liked most about The Age of Desire was the development of the characters. I found myself feeling very sympathetic toward Edith and the situation of her marriage to Teddy. Basically, I felt that she went straight from a loveless childhood (due to her mother) and straight into the same in her marriage. She poured this inner pain into her writing, along with her experiences with the upper crust of society. I know many will feel that I'm wrong in my judgement of Edith due to her actions in the book, but I still feel that Edith was a sympathetic character. In the future, when I read Wharton's novels, I know I will find myself thinking of the Edith in this book.

Anna is a contrast to Edith. Because of their difference in values, Edith's actions disrupts their long friendship. I appreciated Anna's steadfast nature and loyalty to Edith, even if she did disagree with Edith's choices. The men in the book...what can I say. Not very impressive. However, I can't help but think that things could have been far different for Edith and Teddy simply if Edith's mother would have been a kind mother who discussed what it means to be a woman (and married) with Edith and prepared her for what was to come, instead of being cruel and indifferent. Morton? Well, I just won't go there. I knew from the moment he was introduced that he was trouble. Would that we could warn characters to stay away. But then there wouldn't be a story, would there?

I enjoyed this novel and I look forward to reading more from Jennie Fields.

About the book
Paperback Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Penguin Publishing
Paperback; 384p
ISBN: 978-0143123286

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 that behind every great man is a great woman. Behind Edith Wharton, there was Anna Bahlmann—her governess turned literary secretary and confidante. At the age of forty-five, despite her growing fame, Edith remains unfulfilled in a lonely, sexless marriage. Against all the rules of Gilded Age society, she falls in love with Morton Fullerton, a dashing young journalist. But their scandalous affair threatens everything in Edith’s life—especially her abiding ties to Anna.

At a moment of regained popularity for Wharton, Jennie Fields brilliantly interweaves Wharton’s real letters and diary entries with her fascinating, untold love story. Told through the points of view of both Edith and Anna, The Age of Desire transports readers to the golden days of Wharton’s turn-of-the century world and—like the recent bestseller The Chaperone—effortlessly re-creates the life of an unforgettable woman.

Praise for The Age of Desire

“Somewhere between the repressiveness of Edith Wharton’s early-20th-century Age of Innocence and our own libertine Shades of Grey era lies the absorbingly sensuous world of Jennie Fields’s The Age of Desire . . . along with the overheated romance and the middle-age passion it so accurately describes, The Age of Desire also offers something simpler and quieter: a tribute to the enduring power of female friendship.” —Boston Globe

“One doesn’t have to be an Edith Wharton fan to luxuriate in the Wharton-esque plotting and prose Fields so elegantly conjures.” —Kirkus

“Delicate and imaginative . . . Fields’s love and respect for all her characters and her care in telling their stories shines through." —Publishers Weekly

Beautiful ... an imaginative tour-de-force with the best-written naughty bits I have ever read." —UK Daily Mail

Inspired by Wharton’s letters, The Age of Desire is by turns sensuous . . . and sweetly melancholy. It’s also a moving examination of a friendship between two women. —Bookpage

“A fascinating insight into the life of my favorite novelist. Fields brings a secret side of Wharton to life, and shows us a woman whose elegant façade concealed a turbulent sensuality.” —Daisy Goodwin, author of The American Heiress

“With astonishing tenderness and immediacy, The Age of Desire portrays the interwoven lives of Edith Wharton and Anna Bahlmann, her governess, secretary, and close friend. By focusing on these two women from vastly different backgrounds, Jennie Fields miraculously illuminates an entire era. . . . I gained insight into both Wharton’s monumental work and her personal struggles—and I was filled with regret that I’d finished reading so soon.” —Lauren Belfer, author of City of Light and A Fierce Radiance

“In the vein of Loving Frank or The Paris Wife, Jennie Fields has created a page-turning period piece. Fields portrays a woman whose life was hardly innocence and mirth, but passionate, complex, and more mysterious than one might ever imagine.” —Mary Morris, author of Nothing to Declare and Revenge

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.

For more information, please visit Jennie's website. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #AgeOfDesireTour

One copy of The Age of Desire to a winner in the U.S. Please leave a comment and be sure to leave a way for me to contact you if you win (email address, Twitter handle, etc). Last day to enter is Thursday, September 12 at 11:59pm CST. Good luck!


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Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment. It means so much.

I apologize for word verification, but as soon as I changed the settings from only users with Google accounts, I started receiving a ton of spam comments...within one hour of changing the settings. The bots are on high alert apparently.

  1. I'd love a chance to win . The books sounds lovely!
    Elizabeth Bevins
    or on twitter @BevinsElizabeth

    Thank you!

  2. I've had my eye on this one for a while - love Edith Wharton's books!

  3. I've been wanting to read this book ever since I saw it a few months back. I've never read anything about Edith Wharton.

  4. Emma @ Words And PeaceAugust 29, 2013 at 10:14 PM

    looks very interesting. thanks for the giveaway!
    Emma @ Words And Peace
    ehc16e at yahoo dot com

  5. Another book that needs to be added to the reading list.

  6. I've been a fan of Edith Wharton's since reading House of Mirth, but don't know much about her life. I'd love to read more about her.

  7. Would love to learn more about Edith Wharton... Thanks for the giveaway!

    themosthappyreader (at) gmail (dot) com

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