Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Buccaneers---Review

Greetings everyone!

I am apparently one day late on posting this review for the Classics Circuit covering Edith Wharton. I thought my contribution was to be on the 16th of Jan, but much to my chagrin it was the 15th. With many apologies to one and all, here it is....

I remember watching The Buccaneers on PBS when the miniseries came out many years ago and I was intrigued. Yet it was not until the film adaptation of The Age of Innocence that I really began to be interested in the works of Edith Wharton. Many many years later, I have found myself drawn to book challenges sponsored by various book blogs and discovered the one for Edith Wharton. Here was my chance to read the books with a purpose in mind! I chose to review The Buccanneers, Wharton's last novel.

The title of the novel refers to the five American girls who descend upon England intent upon finding husbands with money, preferably with titles. With the help of Nan St. George's English governess (Nan is the main character), they are introduced to the right people and the search is on. What follows is an eye-opening look at the huge differences between the American way of life and the English way of life (at least the aristocratic way). Through Nan's eyes, the readers learns as she does the way things are done--just as they always have been--and deviance from this is not tolerated.

All the girls find husbands, including Nan. But she is different and cannot bring herself to behave and think like a proper English lady. She is too independent for the loveless marriage she finds herself trapped in and there is no one who seems to understand her except the one man she cannot be with. After much soul-searching, Nan finds the courage to be herself and leave her husband to have a life with the man she truly loves and who truly loves her.

Many people find Wharton's writing too descriptive and flowery and this may be true of her earlier works. I did not find that to be so with The Buccaneers. The writing to me was straightforward and not superfulous. The depiction of the differences between English society and American society were fascinating, and gave me pause for much thought. Being American, I took Nan's feelings and independence for granted and could not understand that the Brits protrayed could be so conservative and not see there were other ways of doing things. Yet that is what they knew and felt worked best for them. It all seemed so stifling to me and I rooted for Nan to assert herself every step of the way. This was very much Nan's story and the reader really gets to know and understand her. This may not have been Wharton's best novel, but I would still recommend it.

I should mention that this is my first book review on any blog. I hope it was worth your time to read it.


Amanda said...

Ironically, this one actually sounds interesting to me. She ends up happy at the end? I've never read one that didn't have a big tragic ending.

Karenlibrarian said...

Great review -- welcome to book blogging!!

This is the only Wharton novel I've read with a happy ending. Ironically, she died before she was able to finish it, and someone else actually wrote the intended ending for publication. What did you think of the other author? Could you see a difference in the writing style?

Rebecca Reid said...

Sounds like a great book! I enjoyed the other Wharton novels I've read but haven't gotten to this one. I love the idea of a happy ending, since the others all end rather tragically...

Welcome to book blogging and welcome to the Circuit!

It's possible that we put you on the schedule on the wrong day so if you thought you were the 16th that could have been right. I'm horribly sorry about the frustration/confusion.

Julie said...

I haven't read this book yet and it sounds quite interesting to me. I liked the elements you brought out about the book.
I think you did a fantastic job! I always enjoy hearing what you have to say about books when I visit the library so I look forward to more from you.
Welcome to book blogging!

BookDiva said...

Amanda---I thought this straightforward approach might appeal to you. I hope you get a chance to read it and enjoy it.

Karen--The differences in writing style between Wharto and Marion something or other was not very apparent. She relied heavily on Wharton's notes for the story and I think she did a good job. The BBC series was still very enjoyable for all the artistic licenses.

Rebecca-- I think you would enjoy this much more mature Wharton. I do recommend it. Thanks for the warm welcome. I'm working on getting the hang of the whole book blogging thing. (Still can't figure out why people would want to read my opinion, but hey...worth a shot!)

Julie--Thanks for the kind words. I usually do better talking one on one, but here's a whole new venue---I hope I do it justice.