The biography that first introduced me to Edith Wharton was Shari Benstock’s  No Gifts From Chance (1994)From there, I worked my way back to R.W.B. Lewis’ Edith Wharton; A Biography (1975) and then forward to Hermione Lee’s Edith Wharton (2007).  By the time I’d devoured these three books I was grabbing anyone I met by the lapels and insisting they read about this extraordinary woman.  Not many people listened to me, probably because all three of the biographies I was pushing were over 500 pages.

I decided Edith Wharton needed a translator – someone who could edit the existing 500 page tomes down to around 100 pages so that the woman I had discovered would become accessible to the lay reader.  Often, that’s what we non fiction writers are:  translators.  We don’t necessarily uncover new letters or documents, we simply take what exists and make it readable to a new generation or to a new age group or to anyone who doesn’t know.

Of all the reviews and comments I’ve read about The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton, the most satisfying was one by Booklist reviewer Colleen Mondor on her blog “Chasing Ray”   She claims she hated Ethan Frome when she read it in high school, decided to give my short biography a try, and has now joined the “Edith Wharton Fan Club.”  Music to my ears!

And here’s what I suspect:  That people who have read The Brave Escape… will be so intrigued by this woman that jumping into a more detailed 500 page biography will seem like nothing.