Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Age of Desire

A while back, when I went to meet Kate Morton, the owner of the book store hosting the event recommended a number of books recently released.  The Age of Desire was one and when she described the book, I was intrigued.  I'm not a huge Edith Wharton fan and really hadn't read all that much of her works.  However, starting earlier this year I made a concerted effort to read The Age of Innocence, Ethan Frome and The House of Mirth.  I really enjoyed the first, but not as much the latter two.  So, after reading her more famous works, I felt that I could then begin this book, which happens to fall under the interesting category of "biographical novel."  What's a biographical novel?  Well, it's takes a real person and real events within their life and is then written like a novel, complete with dialogue and certain instances that might make the plot more lively than real life perhaps was. 

The major premise of this book involves the love affair Edith Wharton has during her 40s.  Trapped in a sexless and somewhat loveless marriage, an opportunity arises that Wharton cannot bring herself to pass up.  This book also explores the relationship between Edith and her governess-turned-secretary, Anna Bahlmann.  Who happens to not approve of the affair between Edith and a certain Morton Fullerton.  In fact, towards the end of this novel, the relationship between Edith and Anna really takes center stage. 

This book was really slow going for me.  As in, the first 100-150 pages were a real snooze-fest.  Probably around page 140 I considered putting it down, but I decided to plow on through because I despise not finishing a book.  And I'm glad I did.  The book became much more interesting from then on.  It took me a little over a week to read this book (slow for me), but I would say the first 6 days were spent on the first 150 pages.

Another interesting thing about my experience in reading this book, I like it more the longer it's been since I've read it.  It's one that I've reflected back on...and looked up certain aspects to see if they're true...and have truly felt more fondly about the more I think on it.  Every once in a while I'll run into a book like this and I kind of enjoy that feeling of ponderous enjoyment.  Isn't that what reading is all about?  To think and expand one's mind?

I give this book a solid 3 out of 5 stars and would recommend it.  However, be prepared for a slow going of it, at least at first.

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