EDITH WHARTON IS HOT!
When many people hear the name Edith Wharton, they envision Ethan Frome. The most sizzling part of that book is where Ethan reaches out and nervously touches the fabric that, Mattie, his wife’s cousin and the woman he loves, is in the process of hemming. No wonder people think of Edith Wharton as a sexually uptight writer.
Well, let me enlighten you. While researching my novel The Age of Desire, based on Edith’s life and her illicit love affair at the age of 45, I discovered that Edith Wharton wrote erotica! And not PG erotica but triple X descriptions of every possible sexual act. Titled Beatrice Palmato – and there is only a fragment left -- it was never published. Instead, it was found among her papers when she died. Clearly, it was penned after her affair with Fullerton. Perhaps she wrote it for herself. What is most shocking about it – and it truly is shocking – is that it describes a scene of pleasurable, consensual sex between a grown daughter and her father! Some scholars think she wrote the piece based on an Italian poem about such a story.
While I had a hard time with the incestuous nature of the piece, it was a gift for me as a writer because it gave me true insight into Edith’s own sexuality – how she experienced the pleasures of sex, and even how she experienced orgasm. Since my book is about a mid-life sexual awakening, it would have been, to my mind, wrong to avoid those all-important sex scenes. But I could never have written them confidently without this erotic roadmap from Edith herself.
The change in Edith after her affair didn’t stop with Beatrice Palmato. Her later published work became bolder too, taking on some daring adult plots. In The Reef, she writes about a man about to be married, who has a brief fling with a younger woman. He is later mortified when his young lover shows up as governess for the child of his fiancé. The Mother’s Recompense is the story of a woman who has wild affair with a younger man who later asks her daughter to marry him. If you’ve been thinking Edith Wharton is a fuddy-duddy old-fashioned writer, you don’t know Edith!
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Follow the Rest of the Tour:
Monday, July 29
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, July 31
Review at Peeking Between the Pages
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Review at Carole’s Ramblings & Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
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Review at A Novel Review
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