Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee

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From Hermione Lee, the internationally acclaimed, award-winning biographer of Virginia Woolf and Willa Cather, comes a superb reexamination of one of the most famous American women of letters.

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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Hermione Lee

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Hermione Lee is the first woman Goldsmiths' Professor of English at Oxford University. Her books include the internationally acclaimed biography, Virginia Woolf, Willa Cather, and Body Parts: Essays on Life-writing. She is also a well-known critic, and is the Chair of the Judges for the Man Booker Prize, 2006.
Published December 24, 2008 by Vintage. 912 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Edith Wharton

Kirkus Reviews

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on her deathbed, she “talked about her love of Balzac, her strong feelings for the Catholic Church and her dislike of Jews.” Yet she was a pioneer who took the circumstances of her own life, such as her unhappy marriage to a depressive alcoholic, and turned them into romans à clef such as The Hou...

Feb 15 2007 | Read Full Review of Edith Wharton

The New York Times

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(It is an air, incidentally, completely absent from Lee's marvelous "Virginia Woolf," a more thoroughly absorbing and affecting book.) Nobody has done Edith Wharton such careful justice as Lee, who has brilliantly illuminated so many of the rooms in Wharton's vast interior house.

Apr 29 2007 | Read Full Review of Edith Wharton

The Guardian

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Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee 853pp, Chatto & Windus, £25 In her memoir, A Backward Glance (1934), Edith Wharton recalled her first attempts at writing when she was 11 years old.

Feb 10 2007 | Read Full Review of Edith Wharton

The Guardian

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Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee Chatto & Windus £25, pp864 When Ivy Compton-Burnett complained that people in real life were too flat, too blurry and nothing like definite enough to go straight into a book, she had never met Edith Wharton.

Feb 11 2007 | Read Full Review of Edith Wharton

Open Letters Monthly

After having quoted a letter Wharton wrote in 1914 (before she took up her charity work in France), Lee bounds back on stage, as eager on page 460 to talk about Edith Wharton as she will be on page 760:.

Jun 01 2007 | Read Full Review of Edith Wharton


Lee's portrait also reveals some of Wharton's less attractive characteristics, such as snobbery, racism, anti-Semitism and anti-feminism, which she says were commonplace among upper-class Anglo-Americans of the era.This authoritative book, sensitive and thorough, is surely the definitive biogra...

Dec 05 2016 | Read Full Review of Edith Wharton

Bookmarks Magazine

Richard Eder St. Louis Post-Dispatch 4 of 5 Stars "[Lee] is exhaustive in dissecting and interpreting all of Wharton’s work, not just the works on which her considerable reputation rests—The House of Mirth, The Age of Innocence, Ethan Frome—but all of her novels, critical reviews, articles a...

Aug 03 2007 | Read Full Review of Edith Wharton

London Review of Books

But while Wharton later professed herself baffled by The Golden Bowl, her own letters of assignation sound as if she were channelling Charlotte Stant: ‘There’s a train for Amiens at 12, one for Chartres at 12:50 – All I can see or feel about it is the divine possibility of being with you, away & ...

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The New York Review of Books

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Oct 04 2001 | Read Full Review of Edith Wharton

The New York Review of Books

When Edith Wharton—then Edith Jones—was a little girl, her favorite game was called “making up.” “Making up” involved pacing around with an open book and (before she could read) inventing and then later half reading, half inventing stories about real people, narratives that she would chant very l...

Mar 21 2012 | Read Full Review of Edith Wharton

Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“Adam Levin’s new story collection, “Hot Pink,” is about how love — family love, romantic love, love between friends — turns us into people we never thought we’d become.” – Adam Levin’s Hot Pink is reviewed by The New York Times.

Mar 24 2012 | Read Full Review of Edith Wharton

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