Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton by Connie Nordhielm

The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton by Connie Nordhielm is a fascinating biography that details the famous author s difficult and somewhat scandalous life. A very early reader, Edith Jones was born into a prominent New York family. As a child, she enjoyed voyages overseas to her favorite country, France, and quickly became fluent in English, French, German, and Italian. The next year, she began writing a novel but was criticized by her discouraging mother. She never finished the novel and instead switched to writing poetry. At the age of fifteen, she completed a first novel entitled Fast and Loose, a racy romance; a collection of her poems was published anonymously in 1880 when she was eighteen. After that, her published work increased, and she wrote many famous novels, including Ethan Frome.

The book also details Edith s unfortunate love life, including her unhappy marriage to Edward Wharton in 1885. Furthermore, it touches upon her volunteer work during the first World War, and, as an American, her allegiance to France. However, the title of the book is somewhat misleading. The escape mentioned is not actually an escape at all in the traditional sense. It is a metaphor for Edith s escape from the conventions of from her dysfunctional marriage and New York high society into her becoming a writer and an independent woman.

While this biography detailed some of Edith s creative process, it focused more on her personal life. However, her controversial life story was intriguing and well-written, so it held my attention. Overall, I enjoyed this book, and I learned a lot about someone of whom I knew nothing. However, the emphasis on her personal life and relationships - marital and extramarital - was a bit much, and it took away from a full exploration of Edith's work. In all, though, the book was a entertaining overview about a famous author, and I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history or literature.

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Chicago, IL United States

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