For you fans of Edith Wharton, there have been two great books recently released that explore her relationship with her governess Anna Bahlmann. Both of these authors recently gave a talk at the library on their experiences, and some of Anna Bahlmann’s family was able to attend. In case you missed them, though, here is a review of their works.
By Irene Goldman-Price
This book contains a selection of letters from Edith Wharton to her governess, secretary, and lifelong companion. Goldman-Price includes thoughtful introductions to each section, in order to help the reader understand the progression of Edith’s life and her relationship with Anna. Interestingly enough, Anna’s letters were not kept by any of her famous correspondent, so we only have Edith’s communications. The letters cross forty-two years, showing a young, precocious woman as she became a person whose literature is unforgettable. Wharton’s extensive travels, her interest in poetry, German translations, and writing become apparent, as well as Bahlmann’s influence on her. This book reveals much information about Edith Wharton’s life, even some that contradicts her biography. It was an interesting and in-depth look at the woman behind the writing.
By Jennie Fields
The Age of Desire is a work of historical fiction, which explores not only the relationship between Edith Wharton and Anna Bahlmann, but Anna’s friendship with Edith’s husband Teddy. The novel also delves into the torrid love affair between Edith Wharton and the journalist Morton Fullerton. The story is told from Anna’s and Edith’s perspective, and the differences in class and upbringing are brought to life. Edith seems a tragic figure – a woman who is strong, but whose life is burdened by a husband who she neither loves nor understands. Anna’s affection for both Edith and Teddy are apparent, but her attraction to Teddy and her disapproval of Edith’s behavior causes strain in their relationship. This book was also an interesting take on the life of this literary giant, and brought to life some of the places, times, and people described in Edith’s letters to Anna.
Pleasant reading -