I believe that the only time I ever took the decision to break my own heart, it is the day I decided to read Edith Wharton’s Biography. A book by American Novelist Jennie Fields that promised to recount for me, Edith’s ‘scandalous love affair’ with journalist, William Morton Fullerton.
At first I thought to myself ‘Here we go again. More manipulation by a writer, romanticizing cheating and coercing readers into pitying and favoring philanderers.’
But ‘The Age of Desire’ is no ordinary book! It’s an actual narration of real lives.
I can’t continue writing this review without confessing how unbelievably affected and attached I became to the 40 something woman that this book is about. Edith Wharton is an author who had imminent desires set alight by the worst person imaginable, a man she falls in love with while still married. This however, still doesn’t stop her from surrendering every piece of her awakened heart to him.
William Morton Fullerton on the other hand is a man that’s easy to both adore and loathe. He keeps taking away from Edith just as much as he keeps giving to her. I console myself with being assured that he helped her discover herself in ways she might’ve never realized, introducing Edith to satisfyingly foreign passions. Unlocking a fervent yearning that brews a beautiful fire inside of her.
The real struggle of Edith Wharton’s affair begins when she cannot pull herself away from the architect of her new appetite. Sorrowfully gripping on too tight to the source. Holding on to what she feared no one else can ever give her again.
I sympathized deeply with Edith as I observed her wild desperation. I mourned her despair as she held on to a maniac who’d successfully lured her, unwilling to take her all the way to the end of what he had started in her.
DAMN William Morton Fullerton! And DAMN love for not conjuring a happier ending for Edith Wharton. She needed her Morton to be consistent. A lover that could not only awaken her deepest pleasures but one who could be a companion of her open heart and sullen soul.
The more the book unraveled itself, the more it shook me to my deepest core. By the time, I got to the middle, I was a total mess. The Age of Desire took me through a whirlwind of emotions that I couldn’t even detach myself from. I’ve never suffered so much because of a book, anguished and pleading so hard for a happy ending for our Edith Wharton.
Books should be our safe place, a place for those who seek to be found. But ‘The Age of Desire’ is the kind of book that ruins you and still finds a way to patch you up.
If you’ve been any version Edith in your own love story, aching to make sense of the turmoil and the craziness of a bond that alters you in ways you cannot even comprehend, then this is the book for you!
Read all of it and weep for all the other Edith Whartons out there. Read it to celebrate who Edith Wharton dared to be. Her affair might have turned her whole life upside down but only a few can go down in history, publicly declaring to have finally lived at long last!
Photo By: Lonwabo Zimela
Have you ever had a book break you apart or put you together again? Which book was it? What about it had such an effect in your life?