Framed by a dramatic and moving account of Henry James's last illness, Author! Author! begins in the early 1880s, describing James's friendship with the genial Punch artist, George Du Maurier, and his intimate but problematic relationship with fellow American novelist Constance Fenimore Woolson. At the end of the decade Henry, worried by the ...
Framed by a dramatic and moving account of Henry James's last illness, Author! Author! begins in the early 1880s, describing James's friendship with the genial Punch artist, George Du Maurier, and his intimate but problematic relationship with fellow American novelist Constance Fenimore Woolson. At the end of the decade Henry, worried by the failure of his books to sell, resolves to achieve fame and fortune as a playwright while Du Maurier diversifies into writing novels. The consequences that ensue mingle comedy, irony, pathos, and suspense. As Du Maurier's novel Trilby becomes the bestseller of the century, Henry anxiously awaits the opening night of his make-or-break play, Guy Domville. This event, on January 5, 1895, and its complex sequel form the climax to Lodge's absorbing novel. Thronged with vividly drawn characters, some of them with famous names, Author! Author! presents a fascinating panorama of literary and theatrical life in late Victorian England. But at its heart is a portrait, rendered with remarkable empathy, of a writer who never achieved popular success in his lifetime or resolved his sexual identity, yet wrote some of the greatest novels about love in the English language.
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Publishers Weekly, 2004-08-30 Lodge's (Thinks) meticulously researched but disappointingly tepid "docu-novel" opens in 1915, with Henry James on his death bed, and quickly establishes the context of this take on the great Anglo-American writer's life: James's conflicted jealousy about his friend George Du Maurier's success with the now virtually forgotten novel Trilby, his chaste relationship with the American novelist Constance Fenimore Woolsey, and the fateful evening of January 5, 1895, when his play Guy Domville premiered in London and James was humiliated by the booing from the cheap seats. Why does a man who believes that the theater was noteworthy for "its vulgarity and aesthetic crudity" aspire to be a playwright? For the banal reason that "it was for an author the shortest road to fame and fortune." It may be Lodge's point that James sublimated his desires for love or sex into a longing for acclaim and wealth, but the James of this novel-the second this year to deal with his theatrical career, after Colm Toibin's The Master-is petty, priggish and egocentric in the extreme (his reaction to the apparent suicide of Woolsey: "what he really dreaded was finding some evidence that she had done it on account of him"). Even if this portrayal is accurate-and given the author's scholarly credentials, there's no reason to doubt it-it makes for a singularly undramatic story. Agent, Emilie Jacobson at Curtis Brown. 4-city author tour. (Oct. 11) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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