A quirky, dazzling fiction about the lives, loves and battles of two extraordinary nineteenth-century women. 20031017
Edmund White's novels include A Boy's Own Story, Farewell Symphony and A Married Man. A well-known critic, he is also the author of an acclaimed biography of Jean Genet. After living in Paris for many years, he is now settled in New York, and teaches at Princeton University.
Reimagining the life of a renegade Scottish gentlewoman Fanny Wright. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
White's most recent novel, the saturnine A Married Man, showed little of the feline, Nabokovian elegance of his early work-most famously, A Boy's Own Story. White triumphantly returns to form with this historical teaser, a novel wrapped inside a "memoir" of Fanny Wright by Mrs. Frances Trollope. The real Mrs. Trollope is best known for Domestic Manners of the Americans, an 1830s disquisition on her travels in America; Fanny Wright is best known as the utopian feminist who lured Mrs. Trollope to America with her disastrous scheme to abolish marriage and solve America's racial divide at Nashoba, a community she founded in Tennessee. White's conceit is that this is Trollope's last book, written when its author is 76, her health and memory failing, decades after her adventures in the wilds of America when she was in her late 40s. Essentially abandoned by Fanny Wright from the moment she steps ashore, Trollope must fend for herself and see to the well-being of her daughters, her son Henry and her companion, Auguste Hervieu. As Trollope discovers, Fanny, like many a progressive activist after her, implements her humanistic idealism at the expense of her humanity. But White's real subject is Trollope herself: caustic, witty, self-aware, genteelly impoverished, cursed with a cold, hypochondriac husband. Trollope's struggle to maintain her own little bit of interior civilization is a joy to witness. Since Trollope's book is a classic, White risks a lot by offering a competing narrative. He succeeds by letting Trollope's pen run into un-Victorian excesses, giving us the unbuttoned view of her travels. The emotional epicenter of the book is Trollope's affair with an ex-slave, Cudjo, in the unpropitious town of Cincinnati. White's novel, while shying from preaching, is a timely reminder that transatlantic critics of America's "domestic manners" sometimes have a good point or two to make. Agent, Amanda Urban. (Oct. 10) Forecast: The elaborate conceit may scare off some readers, but Fanny is anything but stuffy. Expect lively review coverage. Six-city author tour. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Wonderfully eccentric...Never less than convincing...Brilliant *
Daily Mail *
Bold and brilliant...Instructive, provocative, funny, poignant and timely...Combines such exuberant invention with such informed historical insight * Guardian *