The Buccaneers by Edith WhartonThe Buccaneers by Edith Wharton

The Buccaneers

byEdith Wharton, Marion Mainwaring

Paperback | October 1, 1994

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Set in the 1870s, the same period as Wharton's The Age of Innocence, The Buccaneers is about five wealthy American girls denied entry into New York Society because their parents' money is too new. At the suggestion of their clever governess, the girls sail to London, where they marry lords, earls, and dukes who find their beauty charming—and their wealth extremely useful.

After Wharton's death in 1937, The Christian Science Monitor said, "If it could have been completed, The Buccaneers would doubtless stand among the richest and most sophisticated of Wharton's novels." Now, with wit and imagination, Marion Mainwaring has finished the story, taking her cue from Wharton's own synopsis. It is a novel any Wharton fan will celebrate and any romantic reader will love. This is the richly engaging story of Nan St. George and guy Thwarte, an American heiress and an English aristocrat, whose love breaks the rules of both their societies.

The upper stratum of New York society into which Edith Wharton was born in 1862 provided her with an abundance of material as a novelist but did not encourage her growth as an artist. Educated by tutors and governesses, she was raised for only one career: marriage. But her marriage, in 1885, to Edward Wharton was an emotional disappoin...
Title:The BuccaneersFormat:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 7.68 × 5.09 × 0.91 inPublished:October 1, 1994Publisher:Penguin Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0140232028

ISBN - 13:9780140232028

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Fine Novel Marion Mainwaring (1993) is to be commended for reportedly taking Edith Wharton's plot synopsis and finally completing "The Buccaneers", a work very much in keeping with Wharton's standard of excellence, but left unfinished at the time of her death in 1937. Upper class snobbery on both sides of the Atlantic is effectively skewered as young American women like Nan St George, her older sister, Virginia, and their friends, all from new money, are unable to penetrate the social preserves of an older aristocracy in 1870s New York, much to the chagrin of Nan's class conscious mother. Thankfully (or not?), choice and exchange theory functions at its cynical best when these women, at the urging of Nan's worldly wise Italian English governess, Laura Testvalley, migrate to England, where they are wooed and won (for better or worse) by young shallow English aristocrats, many of whom (not all) lack the money which these women can provide. While family fortunes tend to dissipate over time when gainful employment is trumped by hunting and other leisurely pursuits, such men are nevertheless coveted because of their titles and their social status. This theme of young American innocents let loose in England or Europe is right out of Wharton's dear friend, Henry James', playbook. Wharton is nevertheless an easier author to read and this novel flows smoothly, for the most part. Like James' works, it is laced with machinations, betrayals, comedies of manners, and romantic intrigues. Disdain is countered by the author's (mostly) positive portrayal of the intellectual and idealistic, albeit naïve, Nan St George and the honourable and independent English aristocrat and civil engineer, Guy Thwarte. Nan has greater depth than her sister, Virginia, and her friends Conchita Closson and the Elmsworth sisters, Lizzy and Mabel. Yet she still makes mistakes and experiences life's adversities, as does Thwarte, whose life is marked by personal tragedies. Thwarte, by rejecting the trappings of his milieu, is aptly named. Self-sufficient, he spends a few years supplementing the family finances by working in Brazil. He adamantly refuses to be beholden to anyone, including a rich wife, American or otherwise. As such, he and Nan are effectively employed to speak out against an all pervasive social snobbery and pretentiousness. Their triumph is one of love over materialism and image, which is always an appropriate message and one just as valuable today as it was in the 1870s, when this story was set. On a final note, "The Buccaneers" is a fine novel, very much in keeping with Wharton's high literary standards.
Date published: 2017-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Buccaneers The Buccaneers is classic Wharton. A deft critique of 19th century American and British society. I found the ending to be unexpected given Wharton's usual style, but Mainwaring did an admirable job. The characters quickly draw you into their world, making it an engrossing read. The Buccaneers is a tale of duty, happiness, marriage and family. I highly recommend it.
Date published: 1999-10-26

From Our Editors

Finally finished by writer Marion Mainwaring, Edith Wharton's timeless story is as riveting today as any written in her own time. Set in the 1870s, The Buccaneers is about five wealthy American girls whose money is too "new" to get them into society

Editorial Reviews

"Brave, lively, engaging . . . a fairy-tale novel, miraculouly returned to life" —The New York Times Book Review"The Buccaneers brilliantly showcases Wharton near the top of her form." —Chicago Tribune"Mainwaring has added gloss to the story's original elegance and wit, and the novel emerges like a master's painting from the hands of a highly skilled restorer." —Leon Edel"Mainwaring's version of The Buccaneers is a tour de force. . . . [She] deserves high marks for her ingenuity, novelistic skill, and critical intelligence." —USA Today"A sense of unobtrusive accuracy of tone and detail prevails throughout Ms. Mainwaring's [writing]. . . . It's hard to imagine a better writer equipped to take on Edith Wharton." —The Wall Street Journal