Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Freebie: Gilded Age by Claire McMillan

Congratulations to Carol Wong, winner of last week's Friday Freebie.  Carol will soon be enjoying the literary pleasures of The World Without You by Joshua Henkin and Menage by Alix Kates Shulman.

This week's book giveaway is Gilded Age by Claire McMillan.  Here at the blog, I've already championed this novel--a contemporary take on Edith Wharton's The House of Mirtha couple of times.  Plus, you can read Claire's guest post in the My First Time series.  What more can I say except "Buy.  This.  Book."?  (That is, if you don't win this contest, of course.)  Okay, I'll add this endorsement from Publishers Weekly:
      McMillan’s debut novel, inspired by Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth, is a hard-edged look at the vacuous, insipid elite of modern-day Cleveland, Ohio. Ellie Hart, back home after rehab and divorce, quickly falls into her old ways, charming men in her search for a wealthy husband, and alienating women. She hooks up with old friend William Selden, who seems more substantial than Ellie’s shallow “friends.” But when Ellie’s divorce settlement disappears in a Ponzi scheme, and her wild ways send Selden away, her desperation leads her to the ambitious, social-climbing Leforte and the comforts of his “enfolding luxury.” While the novel tips its hat to House of Mirth, a simple comparison doesn’t do McMillan justice. Her choice of alternating narration—from first-person (in the form of a childhood friend) to third, rather than wholly omniscient—allows the reader to get to know the increasingly unlikable narrator, a woman trying to absolve herself of guilt over her friend’s downfall.

And then there's this nod from the Cleveland Plain Dealer (which I'd imagine knows a thing or two about Cleveland society):
      Recasting a classic plot as a contemporary story is a common ploy among fiction writers. Helen Fielding took the scaffold of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice to craft Bridget Jones's Diary; Jane Smiley adapted King Lear to an Iowa farm family in A Thousand Acres.
      Now Claire McMillan retells The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton's classic exploration of society ruthlessness, in a new novel set in Shaker Heights and its environs.
      Wharton's tragic heroine Lily Bart becomes Ellie Hart [who] endures a messy divorce from a Wall Street trader, then a month in Sierra Tucson rehab.
      She comes home to Cleveland, she tells childhood friends, because New York has become too harsh. She wants to relaunch her life in a safer place—she thinks.
      To McMillan's credit, Ellie Hart's conundrum seduces us. Clevelanders will find the book studded with intriguing and accurate morsels, set among the city's old-money WASP conventions, updated with sexting and tequila body shots.

If you'd like a chance at winning a copy of Gilded Age, all you have to do is email your name and mailing address to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Please e-mail me the answer, rather than posting it in the comments section.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on July 5at which time I'll draw the winning name.  I'll announce the lucky reader on July 6.  If you'd like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week Quivering Pen newsletter, simply add the words "Sign me up for the newsletter" in the body of your email.  Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

Want to double your odds of winning?  Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter.  Once you've done either or both of those, send me an additional e-mail saying "I've shared" and I'll put your name in the hat twice.

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