The Bucaneers

ISBN: 0517152789
ISBN 13: 9780517152782
By: Edith Wharton Marion Mainwaring

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About this book

Nan and Jinny St George have both wealth and beauty in generous supply. In the New York society of the 1870s, however, only those with old money can achieve the status of the elite, and it is here that the sisters seem doomed to failure.Nan's new governess, Laura Testvalley, herself an outsider, takes pity on their plight and launches them instead on the unsuspecting British aristocracy. Lords, dukes, marquesses and MPs, it seems, not only appreciate beauty, but also the money that New York's nouveaux riches can supply.A love story of love and marriage among the old and new moneyed classes, The Buccaneers is a delicately perceptive portrayal of a world on the brink of change.

Reader's Thoughts

Bobbi Woods

This was a book club read, and I was excited because it falls into my more recent 19th century England genre fetish/obsession!This book was written mostly by Edith Wharton but she died before finishing it in the 1930s. She left behind a pretty clear outline so someone else finished it for her--an Edith Wharton biographer! (her name escapes me) It was seamless and you would never know that it was written by two people. During the first half of the book, I kept thinking, "snooty, snooty, snotty women, just get OVER yourselves!"Anyway, these "rich" American girls being pushed by their mothers to fit into New York society circles decide to go to London and meet the men of their dreams at the suggestion of their governess. One or two end up marrying royalty and the others marry plain old rich English men. England ends up being a not-so-friendly culture to them--they are viewed as obnoxious and crass and not as sophisticated. This is where the term "Buccaneers" comes from--because they seemed to come and "conquer" and "pillage" the British men, much to the dismay of the British mothers!The book began picking up when the main character, Nan, who married a Duke and became a Duchess becomes unhappy and starts to realize her husband doesn't really love her--she is just a figurehead who must do as she is told. She lost a pregnancy trying to save a dying boy in the village on her husband's land. Her husband was furious and things were not the same between them. In the meantime, she falls in love with another man, who has always loved her and sees her for her true self--a caring, down-to-earth person. She tries to be proper--nothing actually happens physically between them--just a lot of hot an heavy thoughts! :-)The first half of the book was just OK--it definitely got better when the drama with all the crazy marriages begins in the second half! As I always say, I didn't love it, but I am better for reading it!Jane and Aunt Cath--you might both enjoy this book!


Did Edith Wharton really intend to write a happy ending to this novel's marriage plot? If so, it was unlike her, and she passed away with a third of the book unfinished. The novel's title,The Buccaneers, refers to young, rich American women who upset Victorian social conventions and conquered the English nobility (Downton Abbey, the prequel)with their beauty and sex-appeal. The ultimate heroine is a woman strong enough to simply walk away from all the spoils she's won. True love does come at the cost of social acceptance, and that's quite a price to pay, The Buccaneers being nothing if not a social novel, but it's also the most spiritually positive of Edith Wharton's books, and her co-author or finisher, Marion Mainwaring, almost pulls it off as well. However, in true Wharton fashion, the novel ends, not on a note of romantic fulfillment but one of disappointment. A young woman's happiness results in heartbreak for a plucky, intelligent, and tireless governess. Convention provides no warm spot by the fire for her.

Linda Grant

American Royalty would not except the novo Reich St Gorges and Elmsworths. So they had to travel to England to see if they could find an alternative to the American royalty they sought acceptance to society through.England offered an new society for Virginia, Nan, Lizzie and Conchita to blossom and grow. It also offered them an expectable place to find husbands. All the girls enter into marriages that turn them into the societal socialites that they sought to be in American. However, these marriages make some of them fell trapped and suffocated.Nan St Gorge finds that her marriage to the Duke of Tintigal is not what she really wanted and that she might not be cut out for English society. The intricacies of English society seem to be a constant unhappiness to her combined with her difficult marriage. All these factors result in her turning to her long ago love Guy Thwarte. This love grows and allows Nan a way to escape her difficult marriage.The other girls find similar matches but all seem to come up again the English social mores and standards that have suffocated Nan. However, most do find happiness in there own way through the tolerance of English high societal life. Lizzie Elmsworth seem to come out the best with her marriage to Hector Robinson. Her marriage seems to be the democratic romantic stage that the other girls sough when they first set out from America.

Shawn Thrasher

The Buccaneers is Edith Wharton's last novel, originally published as an unfinished work, but ultimately finished by Marion Mainwaring (a Wharton scholar who has a Whartonesque name). Mainwaring's end doesn't exactly feel tacked on, but it does feel different; apparently there is another ending out there (at least according to Wikipedia) and I'd like compare. The novel still feels a bit disjointed and unfinished. There is definitely a skeleton, with some bits of muscle and sinews, and even occasionally skin. But it's almost like there are five or six skeletons all thrown into a box, and Wharton was trying to rebuild them when she died, with some of the bits and pieces still mixed up together. The Gilded Age characters are spot on though and lovely to get to know; I kept wanting more of everything - this could have been a far bigger book (or even several books) there was so much to tell. Like most Edith Wharton that I've read, there is definitely a soapy feel to The Buccaneers; Downtown Abbey meets The Age of Innocence. Frothier than gloomy old Ethan Frome, that's for sure; perhaps if the Duke had been more of an obviously evil dastardly characters, the gothic side would have started to come out more. I still heartily recommend it though; for all of its flaws, this is still great fun.


I've fallen in love, readers!It took me about 12 hours from start to finish to read the last of Wharton's novels, left unfinished for decades and then completed in Wharton's style by scholar Marion Mainwaring. As I mentioned earlier, I've watched the PBS series three times now and there's something about it that gets to me. Perhaps because it's sexier and funnier and looser than what one would expect from the era, and because [SPOILER ALERT:] its ending which actually arises from Wharton's notes, is decidedly un-Whartonian. I'm terribly moved by the idea that at the end of her life, Edith Wharton would decide to write a novel about a heroine who behaves in the exact opposite way of nearly all her other major characters, who--to put it quite frankly--doesn't give a shit about social convention and flouts it utterly. I like to think of it as the author's reconciliation to romance, her final, deathbed middle finger to the rules and hierarchies with which she had such a deeply-tortured relationships.Reading The Buccaneers is a dream for those who like comedies-of-manners for their own sake. Wharton will never be Austen: she takes ten lines to explain the social relationships that Austen dispatches with a sentence (this, I think, is evidence of Wharton's psychic struggle with society). But the first two thirds of the book, written by Wharton without revision, each page dropped off the side of her bed as she finished it, are blithe, satirical, sexy and both funny and sad.The many scenes where the characters forge connections over poetry and art as well Nan St. George's stifling marriage and post-marital sexual awakening make me feel as though this is Wharton's Persuasion. And like that novel and other novels with heavy autobiographical elements--Copperfield, The Song of the Lark, etc. it has an emotional immediacy that feels startling and gives it a value different from a more controlled, classically perfect novel.Wharton's contrast of Laura Testevalley, who gives up on romance and sacrifices her chance of happiness so that Nan can run away with Guy Thwarte, and Nan, who finds happiness with Guy after having giving up on it in her role as duchess, fascinates: one feels that Wharton is both Laura, in middle age loosening her scruple, and Nan herself.Mainwaring's best contributions are a number of concluding love scenes that are satisfying (if not as satisfying as the wheat-field fornication in the film ;)) and a deft weaving-in of the horribly sexist divorce laws of the time that existed to punish women, humiliate them, and treat them as property. Marital rape is legal, and Nan's refusal to "produce heirs" for her huband after becoming emotionally estranged from him is a pivotal plot point.This was definitely the best read I've embarked on in a while. I couldn't recommend it enough for Wharton fans who have long desired a less "thwarted" ending for her characters. I'd add that picturing Greg Wise in the romantic leading role definitely added a lot to the reading experience.http://unpretentiouslitcrit.blogspot....


The synopsis for this 1938 edition for The Buccaneers (appearing above) is completely wrong! Who wrote that?! No swashbuckling pirates, here! Edith Wharton's "novel" was published as a lightly edited, incomplete manuscript in the year following her death. It was sure to have been her masterpiece!The "Buccaneers" are 5 nouveau riche American girls who, steered by an English-Italian (cousin to artist/poet D.G. Rosetti) governess, "invade" the Bristish peerage in the 'seventies (1870's).While later editions append with an ending written by a Wharton scholar, I am charmed that my local libray is still circulating this original 1938 edition! There is no ending; it's a cliffhanger prematurely left off amidst a failing marriage and budding romance. So why 5 stars??The writing is superb. The British landscape is beautifully elaborated, in watercolor tones. The subject is fascinating: courtships spanning the improbable social/cultural divide between American upstarts and British aristocrats. And then there's the novelty of reading an unfinished work. The editor insists that Ms. Wharton was not finished developing several of her characters. The contrast between her well-developed characters and the more-transparent ones helps a modern reader appreciate qualities of "classic" literature. I universally recommend this forgotten masterpiece. I'm still deciding if I'll read the "finished" edition, as this one was surprisingly satisfying even in it's incompletion.


Lots of fun and often overlooked, this chronicles the marriage prospects of four daughters of nouveau riche Americans who hope to land cash-poor English aristocrats. After all, new fortunes can’t buy entrance to New York society, but the doors have to swing wide open if the families can boast a duke for an in-law. But can a titled marriage bring happiness? Of course not (at least not always), but the individual journeys make for great reading.


Oh my God, if someone could resurrect the dead and had enough magic potion for one person, I would choose Madame Wharton. It devastates me that even if I visit the "W" shelf at the library a million times over, as if I were a pilgrim visiting a holy shrine, on my bleeding and torn knees, there will never be a new Wharton book propped there for me to read for the very first time. I guess I should be grateful that there are authors out there who inspire such devotion, dead or otherwise.


I found out about this because of the TV miniseries and since I love Edith Wharton I was excited to find out about another book--only to learn that she never finished it. But this particular editing is finished by another writer who appears to have done a good job at using Wharton's original outline (and patterns of departure) to complete the last third of the novel. I think I'll go back and read just Wharton's version (if I can find it. It was printed as "Fast and Loose and The Buccaneers" or something like that) to see what the other author did. The characters are classic Wharton, and there is a degree of social edginess about her work, but the book is not as edgy as the TV production (homosexuality, syphilis, etc.), which makes me wonder why the producers put those extra details in, since Wharton already included infidelity, fornication, and general dissipation. And the actress who played Nan St. George looked like she might have been pregnant through the whole production. But that has nothing to do with the book.


Technically I didn't finish this -- that is, I read until Wharton's manuscript ended. I debated reading the added on ending, and decided not too. I read the synopsis Wharton left and it sounds like a happy ending, so I am satisfied. I first heard of this thanks to Netflix -- the show kept popping up in my que. And they were right -- I absolutely loved this, to the point where I'm not sure I'd want to watch an adaption. Granted, it was almost 200 pages before I started to *really* enjoy it, and since it's only 300 pages of Wharton's writing, that's not very good odds. However the climax of the story in my opinions was one of the best *zing* moments I have ever encountered, and for that it went from three to four stars.I dearly wish Wharton had lived long enough to finish the novel, because Nan is an absolutely lovely character and I would love to finish her story, in her own words so to speak.I will definitely be reading the rest of Wharton's work -- I read the last one first and now can work my way back.Delightful.


Really enjoyed this one, completed by Marion Mainwaring who apparently studies Wharton's work for several decades, so I think she did it justice. This is the 3rd Wharton book I've read and enjoyed all. My daughter is reading House of Mirth for her AP Lit class as a high school junior. I think this book, House of Mirth and Age of Innocence are truly great American literature.


I must really like this book, because this was not my first time reading it. I think that when I was younger I liked it for the excitement of the plot, whereas now I appreciate it for its larger context. It strikes me as very plausible story from a specific time and place in history (end of the 19th century in the U.S. and England). It highlights the way in which the political systems of the two countries determine their cultural differences. The book puts everything I appreciate and take for granted about my own American life into a more precarious state than where I'm used to seeing it. In some ways it seems like a look at the beginning of a cultural revolution. The only objection I have is that it was not completed by Edith Wharton--it was completed after her death based on her outline, but about 30% of the book was not actually written by her. This is not obvious when you read it, but it just doesn't sit quite right.


"دزدان دریایی"* کنایه از اشغال آمریکا توسط اشرافیت جاه طلب انگلیسی ست. قصه در آستانه ی ظهور طبقه ی "نوکیسه"*ی بورژوا در فتح دنیای اشرافیت زمین دار، اتفاق می افتد. چهار دختر از خانواده های ثروتمند آمریکایی- کارخانه دار، سرمایه دار- برای "فصل لندن" به انگلستان آمده اند، و هر کدام در شکار جوانی انگلیسی از طبقات بالای اجتماعی- اشرافیت - به نوعی "دزدان دریایی" تازه اند که این بار از آن سوی اقیانوس، برای فتح قاره ی کهنه آمده اند. شادابی و سرزندگی دختران آمریکایی اما، در آغوش سرد اشرافیت انگلیسی، یکی بعد از دیگری می پژمرد و دختران در می یابند آنچه درباره ی ثروت و مکنت و جاه و جلال اشرافیت می اندیشیدند، خواب و خیالی بیش نبوده است. یکی از دختران با وجود ادامه ی زندگی با شوهر شرابخواره و سفلیسی اش، لذت زندگی را در آغوش معشوق می چشد، دیگری با زاییدن چند کودک، اندوهبار در ثروت غرق می شود تا جایی که خواهر سرکش اش را هم طرد می کند، سومی دانسته درون قصر و ثروت غوطه می خورد، و با تظاهر به عشق، تابع شوهر و رسم و رسوماتی می شود که دوست ندارد... از میان آنها تنها "آنابلا"ست که با "دوک" ثروتمندی ازدواج می کند، به مقام "دوشس"ی می رسد، اما هم چنان از این که فرمانبرداری ست بیکاره در این شکوه یخ زده، بیزار است، و آرزوی مرگ می کند. تا شبی که در نهایت دلتنگی برای آزادی از دست رفته، مرد دیگری را در بستر شوهرش می بیند. این بهترین بهانه برای گریز از این قفس طلایی، و خزیدن در آغوش عشقی ست که سال ها، دانسته از آن روی گردانده است. مردی که نه مالی دارد و نه جلالی، مهندسی که تنها با "عشق" می خواهد "آنابلا" را به آفریقای جنوبی ببرد، با این امید که زندگی تازه ای را آغاز کنند. و آنابلا، پشت به قصر و جاه و جبروت، دست به دست مرد می دهد که دوستش دارد، تا به پشتیبانی این عشق، زندگی را از صفر آغاز کنند. رمان پر است از اخلاقیات سنتی جامعه ی اشرافی، ازدواج های بدون عشق، رسومی که تنها "وظیفه"ی زن را، وفاداری به مرد، اطاعت از شوهر، و زاییدن می شناسد. گریز آنابلا و جدایی معلمه اش، "گزینش"ی ست سوای آنچه رسوم اجتماعی دیکته می کنند. با رهایی این دو زن از رابطه هایی که دوست ندارند، دو شکاف عمیق بر ستون های این قصر سنگین "گوتیک" حک می شود.* The buccaneers /Upstart, Nouveauriche

Hilary Hicklin

As is quite often the case, Wharton's later work doesn't quite measure up to her earlier masterpieces, such as Ethan Frome, which is what I would recommend to anyone new to this writer, and being her last (unfinished) novel it lacks the polish of her other books. Marion Mainwaring has done a pretty good job of completing it though. Wharton has fun exposing the petty snobberies of New York society as well as the pointless traditions of the British class system, as when the Dowager Duchess of Tintagel says "What would happen next, as I said to her, in a house where the housekeeper DID take her meals with the upper servants?".This is a story of the clash of the Old World and the New, of marriages of convenience, of infidelities and boredom. But the key character throughout this book, the person who holds the plot together, is Laura Testvalley (or Testavaglia which is her original name) who belongs in neither camp being the daughter of Italian immigrants. An unmarried governess with spirit and allure, she perhaps points to a more independent style of womanhood and provides a contrast to the other female characters in this novel.The story ends on a note of hope and optimism in contrast to other novels by Wharton which end in sadness and despair. Is that the ending she envisaged, or was this tacked on to make the book more appealing to modern readers?


• Mlle Alice, pouvez-vous nous raconter votre rencontre avec Les Boucanières? "J'avais décidé de découvrir Edith Wharton dont j'entendais souvent parler et j'avais d'ailleurs d'ores et déjà intégré Chez les Heureux du Monde à ma PAL, mais lorsque j'ai vu celui-ci, je l'ai trouvé beau et je me suis dit que pour se faire un avis sur un auteur, mieux valait lire deux de ses oeuvres qu'une seule!" • Dites-nous en un peu plus sur son histoire... "Cinq jeunes américaines à la recherche de maris et boudées par la bonne société New-Yorkaise, débarquent à Londres, bien décidées à s'y faire une place..." • Mais que s'est-il exactement passé entre vous? "J'ai été heureuse de retrouver la magnifique plume d'Edith Wharton! J'ai finalement bien fait de lire deux de ses livres, parce qu'après le premier, d'une si grande tristesse, je n'aurais pas eu le courage de m'y remettre si je n'avais pas déjà eu cet ouvrage-ci en ma possession, et ça aurait été fort dommage! J'ai passé de très agréables moments en compagnie de ces américaines qui viennent un peu rafraîchir et choquer, à notre grand plaisir, la vieille aristrocratie anglaise! Les changements de tons sont assez fréquents et on a parfois l'impression de lire une chronique plus qu'un roman, ce qui change un peu finalement. J'avoue tout de même une préférence pour la première moitié du livre, bien plus gaie! Il semble que l'auteur est décidemment bien du mal à attibuer des destins heureux à ses héroïnes..." • Et comment cela s'est-il fini? "Cette deuxième tentative m'incite à vouloir en découvrir plus chez Edith Wharton. Cependant, ce ne sont décidemment pas les fins que je préfère chez elle, et ici, alors même que l'oeuvre inachevée de l'auteur a été terminé par une autre dame, j'ai l'impression alors que je referme les dernières pages, qu'il manque encore quelque chose!"http://booksaremywonderland.hautetfor...

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