Thursday, March 22, 2007

the buccaneers

I really should be cleaning my bathroom or packing for Mexico, but I need to write about this book!

This is the book Edith Wharton left unfinished when she died. It was completed in 1993, following Wharton's synopsis, by Marion Mainwaring. I ended up loving it. I started to love it, then began to hate it, put it away for a while, then finished it and loved it.

Why did I start to dislike it? I identified too closely with Nan St. George, the protagonist, and bad things started to happen to her. That was not the problem, because of course bad things must happen in novels, even to girls who remind me so much of myself when I was seventeen or eighteen it is eerie. What bothered me is that I feared that Nan was going to turn into someone repulsive. However, this novel probably has the most hopeful ending of Wharton's works.

There are some slow, slightly tedious parts in the beginning of the book but there are other parts that really shine. The last third is written by Mainwaring, and yes, I can see the difference in style. It is more vigorous and modern, but maybe not as interesting. There are none of Wharton's flashes of incredible insight into human nature. It's not quite as spicy. However, I'm glad someone finished it, because it is definitely a story that deserved finishing.

I loved the look at contrasting values and expecations between the American and British upper classes. I loved the discussion of art, its value, and its ability to move.


Anonymous said...

Sounds good! What is it about, overall? I don't think I've heard of it - which may or may not show my lack of culture.

Karen ~ said...

I just reserved it from the library, so will let you know what I think!

Calandria said...

I hadn't heard of it until recently, Mal. It's about five wealthy American girls who are shunned by New York high society because their wealth is too new. They go to England and find not-so-rich but titled husbands. I can see a lot of Henry James in this novel, as it contrasts American vs. British and European culture.