Jennie Fields is the author of The Age of Desire, a novel that imagines the life of American novelist Edith Wharton. The book draws extensively upon a recently discovered cache of letters between Wharton and her governess Anna Bahlman, and is particularly focused on the years 1907-1910 when, following publication of The House of Mirth, the 45-year-old Wharton began a passionate affair with journalist Morton Fullerton.
“Edith overcame the narrow expectations on which a girl of her era was raised,” writes Fields about the enduring appeal of Wharton’s life and fiction. “She wrote brilliantly, with focus, publishing over forty books. Her characters are not just influenced by society but trapped by it. As a woman growing up in the fifties and sixties, I strongly related to that dilemma. Internally, I felt I was capable of anything, but the girls around me were preparing for ‘women’s jobs’ such as secretaries, teachers, librarians. I wanted more and I expected more of myself. Don’t most of us feel somehow trapped by the expectations that shape us?”
Fields’s previous novels include Lily Beach, The Middle Ages, and Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, which borrows its title from the famous poem by Walt Whitman. An Illinois native and a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Fields spent many years as an advertising creative director in New York. Today she lives with her husband in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Age of Desire (2012)
Crossing Brooklyn Ferry (2002)
Lily Beach (1993)