Signed Books Edmund White Fanny: A Fiction

ISBN 13: 9780060004842

Fanny: A Fiction

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9780060004842: Fanny: A Fiction

In her fifties, Mrs. Frances Trollope became famous overnight for her book attacking the United States. Twenty-five years later, she sharpens her pen for her most controversial work yet -- the biography of her old friend, the radical and feminist Fanny Wright. She recalls the 1820s when the young Fanny erupted into the Trollopes' sleepy English cottage like a volcano, her red hair flying, her talk aflame with utopian ideals. Before long, Wright has convinced Frances to follow her to America, a journey of extreme penury, frontier hardships, and the most satisfying sensual romance of Frances Trollope's life.

The biography soon degenerates into a settling of scores and digressions on the misadventures of Mrs. Trollope's own family. By turns noble and petty, comic and tragic, it introduces us to literary lions, battling political theorists, gamblers and escaped slaves, and even the aging General Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. With hallucinatory realism, Mrs. Trollope paints French châteaux, Belgian fogs, Mississippi mud, and the gaudy splendors and cruelties of Haiti. And throughout this sparkling narrative, we find love in all its forms -- in the family, between races and generations, and within the same sex.

Fanny: A Fiction is a wonderful new departure for Edmund White -- a quirky, dazzling story of two extraordinary nineteenth-century women, and a vibrant, questioning exploration of the nature of idealism, the clay feet of heroes, and the illusory power of the American dream.

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About the Author:

Edmund White is the author of the novels Fanny: A Fiction, A Boy's Own Story, The Farewell Symphony, and The Married Man; a biography of Jean Genet; a study of Marcel Proust; and, most recently, a memoir, My Lives. Having lived in Paris for many years, he has now settled in New York, and he teaches at Princeton University.

From Publishers Weekly:

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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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