The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton (1938/1993)

The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton

From the 1993 Viking edition of The Buccaneers: “Brave, lively, engaging,” said The New York Times Book Review of Edith Wharton’s classic novel The Buccaneers, left uncompleted at her death (finished by Marion Mainwaring).

Nan and Virginia St. George have the great good luck to be born beautiful and wealthy — the two qualities prized above all others in 1870s New York — but the insurmountably bad luck to come from “new money.”

Shunned by the snobbish guardians of Manhattan society, the lively girls still attract many admirers, but no offers of marriage from eligible men — the grail pursued discreetly but with single-minded intensity by all young women of polite birth (and their mothers).

Their spirited governess, Laura Testvalley, determines to launch these buccaneers in London society, whose impoverished aristocracy, groaning under the burdens of massive country estates, are only too willing to trade a title for a fortune.

But the earls and lords have failed to reckon with the strong wills of the buccaneers — especially exquisite Nan’s. She dares to hope for more than position and wealth: a genuine, enduring love is what she craves, and she’s willing to sacrifice everything she’s attained for something true and real.

Edith Wharton’s novel pits tradition against vitality and change in a lushly romantic tale, observed with all her characteristic elegance and wit.

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The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton

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