Jane-ites and Bronte-lovers, take note: Edith Wharton, like Austen and the Brontës, continues to inspire novelists to the present day. EW in Florence is proud to introduce our guest readers, Lev Raphael and Jennie Fields, both authors of fiction drawing on, and revisioning, Wharton’s life and art. Read on for biographies and descriptions of these two authors’ work:
Lev Raphael is a prize-winning author and reviewer who has published twenty books in genres from memoir to mystery. His work has been translated into a dozen languages and he has done hundreds of invited talks and readings from his books on three different continents, though this will be his first reading in Italy. Before he left academia in 1988 to write and review full-time, he was an assistant professor of American Thought and Language at Michigan State University where he earned his Ph.D. in American Studies. MSU has invited him back as a “distinguished author” to teach creative writing and MSU’s Libraries recently purchased his present and future literary papers for their archives. Raphael has reviewed for NPR, The Washington Post, The Detroit Free Press and many other journals and magazines. Among his books is The Edith Wharton Murders, which the New York Times Book Review called “a maliciously funny campus mystery,” as well as a psychological study of Wharton’s life and fiction, Edith Wharton’s Prisoners of Shame. Raphael was the first critic to apply shame to a reading of Wharton’s fiction, starting in the late 1980s with his articles on the then-ignored novellas The Touchstone and Sanctuary. He was also especial champion of Wharton’s later fiction like The Mother’s Recompense. His latest novel Rosedale in Love tells the story of The House of Mirth from the perspective of Simon Rosedale and his family, blending characters from Wharton’s book, historical figures, and characters he created. The novel was inspired by decades of reading Wharton and by Wide Sargasso Sea and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Raphael’s web site is http://www.levraphael.com.
Jennie Fields was born in Chicago and raised in Highland Park, Illinois. She received her master’s degree in creative writing from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Since then, she has published numerous stories and three novels: Lily Beach, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, and The Middle Ages. Her latest book, presently titled The Age of Desire and based on the life of Edith Wharton, will be published by Viking in summer 2012. The work focuses on Wharton’s life in the years 1907-1910. Fields has been a devoted Whartonphile since her early twenties, and returns to Wharton’s novels regularly for inspiration. For more information, see http://www.amazon.com/Age-Desire-Novel-Jennie-Fields/dp/067002368X.