The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields is an intimate peek into the life of Edith Wharton and I loved every minute of this book. I was lucky enough to get the audiobook which is narrated by Meredith Mitchell. I’ve never listened to anything by her before but she is very good at using different tones and keeping a listener engaged which is a good thing when an audio is fourteen hours long. I’ve read a few of Edith Wharton’s novels and enjoyed them with Ethan Frome being my favorite so I was excited to get this glimpse into the life behind the author.
The novel shows us the secret side of Edith Wharton that tells of her scandalous love affair with a man and the very close relationship she had with her assistant Anna Bahlman. Anna started out as a governess to Edith and continued to stay on with her as her assistant as Edith’s career as a novelist blossomed. Edith by all accounts lived an upper class life and was very well known for her writing. She certainly traveled a lot and met many interesting people and to all she seemed to have it all.
Edith’s personal life was another story though. Her marriage was a shambles. She married her husband Teddy for all the wrong reasons and they are becoming clearer and clearer as the years pass. Although she does love him in her own way he really gets on her nerves more than anything else and she tries spending as much time away from him as she can. When she meets Morton her world is turned upside down. For the first time in her life she becomes aware of what real desire is and although a relationship with him is a trainwreck waiting to happen she finds she can’t stay away from him.
Her relationship with Anna is the most intriguing as Anna not only worked for Edith but she was also her friend and confidante. Anna was behind all of what Edith wrote in a way. Yes the story was Edith’s making but Anna edited everything and made little suggestions that more often than not were heeded by Edith. However when Edith embarks on her affair with Morton it puts a chink in her friendship with Anna because Anna does not approve. She is saddened by the way that Edith and Teddy have grown apart in their marriage. Teddy has always held a special place in Anna’s heart and to her Edith should feel honored to be married to him. She finds herself torn between her loyalty to Edith and her disapproval of her lifestyle.
The Age of Desire is an eloquently written novel. Jennie Fields brings alive the early 1900’s along with Edith’s life. She’s written the novel by seamlessly weaving Edith Wharton’s real letters as well as diary entries with this untold love story. While it was interesting to see Edith discover her sensual side later in life I was more fascinated with her friendship with Anna as it lasted throughout her entire life. If you’re looking for a novel that you can really sink into and enjoy or if you’ve ever had an interest in Edith Wharton’s life then The Age of Desire is a sure pick for you! It’s an excellent novel!
The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields is on tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours so be sure to check out the other tour stops as well as they will be running through to the end of August. If you’d like to know more about Jennie Fields you can connect with her on her website, Facebook, and Twitter. Your own copy of The Age of Desire can be purchased at Amazon or Amazon Canada.
Source: Review copy provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and the publisher. No compensation was received and all opinions are my own.