Baker & Taylor Five American girls, denied access to 1870s New York society due to the newness of their wealth, go to England to marry into the cash-hungry aristocracy, in a meticulous rendering of Wharton's unfinished masterpiece. 50,000 first printing. $25,000 ad/promo. BOMC Dual Main.
Blackwell North Amer Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a bestseller in her own day, Edith Wharton was the premier chronicler of society - its manners and mores - from the turn of the century through the 1930s. In The Buccaneers, her last novel, she created two of her finest female characters: the young romantic Nan St. George and her English governess, Laura Testvalley, whom Wharton's biographer R. W. B. Lewis calls "so richly complex a person, endowed with so much humanity, that she threatens to run away with the narrative." The novel opens at the height of the 1876 racing season in Saratoga, New York, where mothers with "new money" assess their daughters' competition in the marriage market. It moves to London, where the St. George and Elmsworth girls go because the rigid guardians of American Society will not accept them. The dukes, lords, and marquesses of England, on the other hand, are delighted not only with the girls' beauty but with their fathers' bounty - just what is needed to revitalize impoverished British estates. It is Miss Testvalley who suggests the journey abroad, and she who recognizes that Nan - though less beautiful than her sister and less "finished" than her friends - has the capacity to love, deeply and defiantly. The novel closes with a romance that violates convention on both sides of the ocean. "Death ended Edith Wharton's work on a novel which might have been her masterpiece," said Time magazine in 1938. Now, Marion Mainwaring has completed the story, meticulously and imaginatively following Wharton's directions. The result is a book any Wharton enthusiast will celebrate and any romantic reader will love - a rich, beautifully nuanced classic for all time.