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Gilded Age: A Novel Hardcover – June 12, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (June 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451640471
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451640472
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #984,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Looking for a beach read with a touch of literary pedigree? . . . [A] rich romp of a read.”Elle

"Great fun, an over-the-top social farce, like Gossip Girl for grown people."—Boston Globe

"McMillan, a facile writer who excels at natural dialogue, is deft at bringing character 'types' like Ellie and her professor-swain to life. Readers needn't care about Cleveland aristocracy to enjoy this book. . . . Ellie Hart's conundrum seduces us . . . studded with intriguing and accurate morsels, set among the city's old-money WASP conventions, updated with sexting and tequila body shots. More than a century after The House of Mirth, McMillan demonstrates that human nature's tendency to judge and shun is still with us."—The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“McMillan reimagines Wharton’s The House of Mirth as a modern story set amid the upper crust of Cleveland instead of New York. The new setting works brilliantly. While the book hews to the original in terms of plot, this is no literary parlor trick: The dialogue is sharp and witty, and the characters inhabit a world of their own making. It’s a tragic comedy that’s alternately hilarious and heartbreaking.”—Romantic Times


“A hard-edged look at the . . . elite of modern-day Cleveland . . . While the novel tips its hat to House of Mirth, a simple comparison doesn’t do McMillan justice.”—Publishers Weekly

“McMillan cleverly uses Wharton’s classic novel to draw parallels between the social mores of two starkly different centuries. . . . An engrossing first novel.”—Library Journal

“Marvelous . . . it is McMillan’s deft touch with the complexities of male-female relationships that . . . give Gilded Age real depth. . . . As a stand-alone novel this works in every sense.”Portland Book Review

"With a keen eye for the perfect detail and a heart big enough to embrace those she observes, Claire McMillan has written an assured and revelatory debut novel about class, gender, and the timeless conundrum of femininity."—Bookreporter.com

“Entertaining and thought-provoking . . . mature and deft. . . . An engrossing reinterpretation of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth.—ShelfAwareness.com

“If Edith Wharton had lived in the contemporary Midwest, here is the novel she would have written. From the dowager who pins a half million dollars in diamonds on her fleece vest to the native son burdened by a decaying family estate, Claire McMillan gets it all right as she spins an intelligent and engrossing story of class, feminism, and beautiful but doomed Ellie Hart.”—Susan Rebecca White, author of A Soft Place to Land

"In Gilded Age, Claire McMillan manages to both channel Edith Wharton and tell a compelling contemporary story of a woman unable to define herself through anything but the men who who desire her."—Lily King, author of Father of the Rain

“Claire McMillan has captured Cleveland society in her clever net and with it brought back Lily Bart to vivid life in this witty, perceptive, and compulsively readable story of our human frailties, our strivings for success and love.”—Sheila Kohler, author of Becoming Jane Eyre

“Claire McMillan has written a delightful first novel, which cleverly uses The House of Mirth as a counterpoint for her own perceptive take on contemporary social mores. A very fun read for Wharton's fans and anyone who likes a good story.”—Emily Mitchell, author of The Last Summer of the World

“Claire McMillan's mesmerizing depiction of contemporary Rust Belt aristocracy—no less stratified and coded than Edith Wharton's New York—is also a tender look at friendship and the secret of happiness. The haunting beauty of this novel lingers after the final page.”—Irina Reyn, author of What Happened to Anna K.

About the Author

Claire McMillan grew up in Pasadena, California and now lives in Cleveland on her husband’s family’s farm with their three children. She practiced law until 2003 and then received her MFA in creative writing from Bennington College. This is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Save your money---don't buy this book.
joannahs
If you have any familiarity at all with Edith Wharton's "House of Mirth", this book will strike you as laughably bad.
Allynn T
She is the same woman at the end as at the beginning, just a little drunker.
Laura

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Literaryxplorer on June 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very much looking forward to reading this novel: Edith Wharton's "House Of Mirth" reset in contemporary Clevland. What a great premise! I'm from Clevland, knew the social milieu there quite well, have love-hate feelings about the place. Alas, I was sorely disappointed. This is, I suppose, a novel of manners...but the depiction of upper end Cleveland society didn't hold my interest, and many of the secondary characters, lacking definition, ended up being just names on the page. Another major (to me) failing was that even when the author set scenes in locations I know well (Cedar-Fairmount; The Cleveland Art Museum; etc.) I found her descriptions flat. I still think she had a powerful idea, and that with a lot more work could have made something quite fine. This is a first novel and so much can be forgiven. Thus I rate it three stars; otherwise I'd have given in two. But I was bored and I believe others will be as well. Still, for all my disappointment, I wish this author luck.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Laura on July 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If this had not been a re-envisioning of The House or Mirth, one of my favorite books, I would have given this book 3 stars. As an ordinary book, it deserved 3. As a modernization of the House of Mirth it deserves 2 at best. The author clearly knows the language of rarified material possessions, "cymbidium orchids" and "astrakhans" etc. There is plenty of that to illustrate the elevated style of the characters in this book. A lot of Town and Country touches. But the writing, while often good, can at times be embarrassingly clumsy. People snort a lot (as in, "he snorted", "she snorted,"); they also furrow their brows regularly and roll their eyes. But all amateurish phrasing aside, her effort to plot the book along the lines of The House of Mirth is valiant. But it just doesn't come off. The main reason is the central character of Ellie. Wharton's creation, Lily Bart, is what made a cautionary tale come alive. Lily is complex and three dimensional: snobbish, kind, cold, empathetic, vain and self-critical, an idealist and a pragmatist, a calculator who can never bring herself to follow her own calculations. Ellie, on the other hand (as she herself complains), comes off as just a cipher. A beautiful girl with a taste for the good life and some serious addiction problems. And that is all there is to say about her. She is not an original. Furthermore, Lily's character deepens as we get to know her, and the scene where she burns the letters illustrate her final surrender to her own decency. Ellie never surrenders her selfishness. She is the same woman at the end as at the beginning, just a little drunker. I would like to make one note in the author's favor. I love that she had Seldon pushing alcohol on Ellie from the beginning.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Allynn T on March 18, 2013
Format: Paperback
If you have any familiarity at all with Edith Wharton's "House of Mirth", this book will strike you as laughably bad. Wharton's likeable, struggling heroine Lily Bart becomes shallow, drifting Ellie Hart, and other names from Wharton's masterpiece appear in pale imitation - Dorset, Trenor, Selden, Percy Gryce. McMillan tries unsuccessfully to show that the Gilded Age woman of Lily Bart's time has progressed not at all, and marriage to wealth is the only way a woman can become socially respectable. The premise is ridiculous and the story is plodding and uninteresting. It's not vicious at all so can't be stinging social satire; there's no humor at all, or respect for the characters shown by the author, so we can't care about them either.

If you're not familiar with "House of Mirth", this doesn't even qualify as a decent beach read.

What a clunker.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on June 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Eleanor Hart returns to Cleveland when her Manhattan-based marriage ended in divorce. Rumors abound that the beautiful chic Ellie stopped on her way home for a thirty day stay at Sierra Tucson, a noted rehab center.

Ellie still has her magnetic control of men who are attracted to her like bees buzzing around honey. Her best friend quickly realizes when they meet at the opera for the first time since Ellie cane home that she remains as self-indulged as always. Knowing Ellie has no money, her BFF suggests she marry a rich suitor like wealthy ambulance chasing lawyer Randall Leforte. As Ellie makes the rounds of Cleveland's in-bred acrimonious affluent, she seems to always return to case Reserve Western University English professor William Selden.

This is a superb modernization of The House of Mirth that makes a case that women may claim they have come a long way since the early twentieth century of the Edith Wharton novel, but realistically have not gotten very far as a woman's societal standing has not altered that much. Though sexual views seem antiquated yet ironically timely with the Vagina War, Ellie's unnamed BFF provides a strong sharp condemnation of society that assaults women who choose to break out of their pre-determined by DNA caste.

Harriet Klausner
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rarely have I come across a book that frustrated me the way this one did. I felt it wasted my time and my money. I was not fond of any of the characters, primary or secondary. I had a difficult time trying to decide what century or decade the author was trying to depict. I don't know Cleveland, but I'm sure there are more likeable people who live there than this bland list of nobodies. Also frustrating were the inaccuracies - polar bears do not live in Antarctica, yet she compares a sure likelihood to this non-fact. In another instance, at a stuffy mid-20th century dinner party, everyone talks during the first course to the person on their left, then promptly switches halfway through to the person on their right. If I was sitting next to you during the appetizer and I talked to you on my left, would you not then be talking to the person on your right?

I struggled painfully through this book and I must say it went into recycling when I hit the last page.
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