By Hermione Lee
Vintage Books USA, Paperback, 9780375702877, 869pp.
Publication Date: April 8, 2008
Delving into heretofore untapped sources, Lee does away with the image of the snobbish bluestocking and gives us a new Edith Wharton-tough, startlingly modern, as brilliant and complex as her fiction. Born into a wealthy family, Wharton left America as an adult and eventually chose to create a life in France. Her renowned novels and stories have become classics of American literature, but as Lee shows, Wharton's own life, filled with success and scandal, was as intriguing as those of her heroines. Bridging two centuries and two very different sensibilities, Wharton here comes to life in the skillful hands of one of the great literary biographers of our time.
“A remarkable feat. . . . Unquestionably authoritative, impressively exhaustive....Nobody has done Edith Wharton such careful justice as [Hermione] Lee.” —Claire Messud, The New York Times Book Review
“Magnificent. . . . By far the most comprehensive study of [Wharton's] full, populous and robust life. . . . Wharton lived a spirited and passionate life, and Lee captures that passion.” —Newsday
“Thorough and intelligent. . . . This meticulous, generous biography is likely to suffice for a long time.” —Diane Johnson, The Washington Post Book World
“Richly detailed, carefully nuanced. . . . Edith Wharton is not only the best book on its subject, but one of the finest literary biographies to appear in recent years.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution