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The open door
Elizabeth Maguire
Adult Fiction MAGUIRE

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From Publishers' Weekly:

The former publisher of Basic Books, Maguire published her first novel, Thinner, Blonder, Whiter, in 2002; she had completed this second novel when she died of cancer in 2006. Pitch perfect from start to finish, the book is couched as the memoir of once-popular writer Constance Fenimore Woolson (1840-1894): a manuscript left behind at her death to counter her image as "a long-suffering, martyred spinster." At its center is the vibrant, intriguing relationship between Woolson and Henry James, whom she meets in Paris in 1879. James calls her Fenimore (she's the niece of The Last of the Mohicans author James Fenimore Cooper), and she calls him Harry; theirs was, Woolson says, "[a] marriage not of bodies, but of minds." The stuff of conventional memoir is judiciously tucked in (Woolson's travels; her encroaching deafness; James's sister, Alice, and his circle), but with an immediacy, embodiment and frankness 19th-century memoir almost always lacks. Through Maguire's elegant pen, Woolson, a writer who was often pigeonholed as a mere verbal colorist, gets to establish her significance to James: "Whenever Harry left he always took something from me, a little piece of my own imagination." Maguire's vivid depiction of those complex exchanges is utterly absorbing. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

This first novel, published posthumously following Maguire's death from ovarian cancer in 2006, explores the friendship between the writers Constance Fenimore Woolson and Henry James from the former's perspective. The book imagines the 15 years Woolson spends in Europe, where she has gone with the express purpose of befriending James, whose work she greatly admires. James enjoys her admiration and accepts her friendship while envying her commercial success. Ultimately, however, their friendship dissolves under the strain of Henry's secretive nature and Connie's fierce independence. Her failing health encourages the fictional Connie to be the author of Maguire's text, to explain how and why a friendship of such depth could fail. Captivating and engrossing, Maguire's clear prose is a joy to read, and her analysis of relationships between men and women, Americans and Europeans, social classes, and friends applies just as much to the modern era as the historical. This novel will appeal not only to historical fiction readers but also to literary fiction readers, who will be interested in the blurred boundaries between author and text. Recommended for most libraries.--Amy Ford, St. Mary's Cty. Lib., Lexington Park, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Constance Fenimore Woolson
Female
Age: 1840-1894
Supported her mother an brother with her writing; wanted to live life; journeyed to Europe; traveling cured her depression and helped with dealing with pain from tinnitus; became close friends with Henry James, her favorite author.
Writer



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