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11 Responses

  1. Diane says:

    Hi Heather, I’m a bit behind, I know, but I wanted to drop a line after reading up a bit on Edith Wharton.
    First of all, she and Henry James were close friends, so I’m not at all surprised she referred to him and his work in her books.
    Also, re being an outsider, yes Edith was very inside this world (her mother’s family were descended from the first Patroon and her father’s family was of *the* Jones clan), but by the time she wrote this, she was so an outsider. I am sure you know all about her life, but for other folks who might see this, she had a husband who had serious mental health issues that made a huge impact on her life, eventually leading to a divorce. I see so many parallels between her and Midora Mingott and/or Ellen Olenska.
    Edith seemed bent on walking away from the privileged life she was born into, and I can imagine she would be pretty traumatized by her experiences of having a mentally ill husband (perhaps inspiring the “crazy Chiverses?”) divorcing, and having a long-standing affair with a journalist decidedly not of her class…
    After her divorce she was able to travel a lot and lived in various parts of France. She reported from the western front in the first world war and later moved to Provence where she lived a pretty remote and relaxed life. I think it would be easy to see how she could now look back and in at New York society in the days of her youth with the eye of one who was no longer of that world.

    I also wanted to say how sorry I was to hear of your struggles in the last episode. I can really empathize with your frustration and disappointment at how the medical culture in the U.S. totally sells us down the road. A friend of mine and his wife who live in Germany just had a baby with a 7 day hospital stay, with no insurance. Total cost for that plus several weeks of daily home visits is 1500 euros. It’s infuriating that we can’t get our act together and care for our own.

    • Heather says:

      Everything I’ve read so far has very veiled, coded messages about her husband… now I know what I’m seeing.
      This is good info! Thank you so much!

      • Diane says:

        Sure! I even found one page here–http://www.wharton.freeservers.com/edwardrobbins.html which has a lot of in-depth info about Teddy and seems to be written by a relative. The page suggests Teddy may have had bipolar disorder, that the two of them never really hit it off, and that he was unfaithful to her, to the extent of stealing her money to maintain a mistress.

        I haven’t read her letters (yet) but I suspect this is where some of this info might come from. I didn’t find anything else online to corroborate it, but still kind of interesting.

        To be honest, I had such a hard time with Ethan Frome and The House of Mirth that I almost didn’t listen in to this one. Both of those books are SO hopeless and distraught, but you can kind of see how they might be, considering when she wrote both she was still married and still kind of stuck in that world, caring for a sometimes invalid (like Ethan) and so trapped by society (like Lily). I have a hard time with those hopeless missed opportunity stories, maybe because of my personal experiences. It’s the same reason I find Thomas Hardy hard to read. It’s too real and raw, I guess. That said, I am loving Age of Innocence so far (maybe because I don’t know how it ends) and I am really falling for Wharton’s writing style. What a smart cookie she must have been. She didn’t miss a thing.

  2. jeansny says:

    Hi Heather – I live in the Hudson Valley in NY but alas I do not know the real Skuytercliff. However, I found the reference to “visiting aunts in Rhinebeck” to be interesting since Edith Wharton had an aunt and uncle that lived in Rhinebeck so she was very familiar with the area and the estates. Interesting bit of trivia/lore is that the aforementioned aunt and uncle were the Jones(es) that everyone has been trying to keep up with and their estate was called Wyndcliffe (sometimes spelled with a “y”). The estate still exists but is in a state of ruin and the story and history were written up in the Wall Street Journal about 10 years ago. There are a number of pictorials online that showcase the deterioration of the once resplendent home. If you are going to Rhinebeck this fall, I highly recommend taking a drive down River Road to get a feel for the area and see the remnants of “Millionaires Row” in Rhinebeck.

    • Heather says:

      I didn’t know that about Wharton’s uncle, but it doesn’t surprise me. Plus, Rhinebeck is gorgeous. I hope lots of folks can go take a peek at NYSW this year!

  3. Gretchen says:

    Magic! It’s fixed on Stitcher!

  4. Gretchen says:

    Hate to be the bearer of other snafus, but the Stitcher feed is only something like 29 minutes (the red meteor…)

  5. Michelle says:

    Hi Heather. This episode seems to be broken. Here, on Libsyn, and in iTunes. It comes down as a 50KB file with no content.