The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton

By Wooldridge, Connie Nordhielm

Publishers Summary:
Product Description Edith Wharton, author of Ethan Frome, The House of Mirth, and other acclaimed novels, was born into a wealthy family. Beginning in childhood, Edith found ways to escape from society's and her family's expectations and follow an unconventional, creative path. Unhappily married and eventually divorced, she surrounded herself with male friends. She spent much of her life in Paris and was recognized by the French government for her generosity and hard work during World War I. Her literary and personal life, her witty and incisive correspondence, her fondness for automobiles and small dogs--all are detailed in this warm and sparkling account of a woman well ahead of her time. Includes a bibliography, source notes, and an index. Amazon Exclusive: A Letter from Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge, Author of The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton Dear Amazon Readers, A good book always makes me curious about the person who wrote it. That happened in a big way when I finished Edith Wharton's novel The House of Mirth. After I read the biographical sketch on the back cover and the dedication, I was more curious than ever and started devouring everything I could find about her. I'd read plenty of books about people who escaped from poverty to pursue their dreams. What I discovered about Edith Wharton was that she escaped from a life of wealth and luxury to pursue hers: New York society women of the Gilded Age didn't work, and they most certainly didn't write fiction. Edith Wharton defied the expectations foisted upon her to become a best-selling, Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who made a terrific living with her pen. Why were there no books for young people about this courageous, fascinating woman? Since I was a writer of picture books, I decided to try my hand at a short piece about her escape from society's expectations. But something else I discovered started pulling me another way. As an adult, Edith Wharton left the United States for Paris and found herself living there when World War I broke out. She should have decamped to England and waited things out in a luxurious country home she'd rented there. She chose instead to remain in Paris, endure the privations of the war years, and lay her writing aside in order to open a number of charities where orphans, refugees, and victims of tuberculosis could be cared for. I had the thought that maybe I should focus my picture book on her war work. I pored over old letters in research libraries, visited Wharton's summer home in Lenox, Massachusetts, and found myself pulled in more and more directions. I began to think that I needed more room than a thirty-two-page book would give me--that I would have to write a full-length biography to tell Edith Wharton's story properly. But I was a picture book writer, a teller of very short, focused nonfiction tales. Should I defy the expectations I had imposed on myself and try this new thing? The answer was obvious: If Edith Wharton had the courage to strike out into uncharted territory, how could her would-be biographer do anything less? So it was Edith Wharton's books that first drew me to her. But it was her determination to follow her writer's call, as well as her rich, well-lived life, that led me out of my own comfort zone and inspired me to write The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton. I'd love to introduce you to Edith Wharton. As her writer friend Henry James observed, "You will find nothing stupid in her and nothing small." Sincerely, Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge The Mount--Edith Wharton's Estate in Lennox, MA (The Mount photo © David Dashiell)

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School Library Journal

Reviewed on September 1, 2010

Gr 6–9—The Brave Escape begins with an explanation of the saying, "Keeping up with the Joneses." The term was coined during the 1800s to describe attempts at social climbing and as a direct reference to the family into which Edith Jones Wharton was born. This hook heightens the monumentality of the unconventional "escape" Wharton made from the rules of Gilded Age New York society into a writing career and a life of...Log In or Sign Up to Read More

Horn Book Guide

Reviewed on January 1, 2010

During the 1800s "keeping up with the Joneses" meant matching the social status of Wharton's family. Yet from an early age, this Pulitzer Prize...Log In or Sign Up to Read More

Junior Library Guild

Reviewed on November 1, 2010

Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge recreates the staid, hierarchical world of Edith Wharton’s youth. Readers will sympathize with the stultifying expectations to which Wharton was subjected and will root fo...Log In or Sign Up to Read More

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