A WIFE OF NOBLE CHARACTER
Yvonne Georgina Puig
Genre: Women's Contemporary Fiction
Date of Publication: August 2, 2016
Number of Pages: 320
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Thirty-year-old Vivienne Cally is wealthy in name only. Orphaned as a child and raised by a cold but regal aunt, Vivienne was taught to rely on her beauty and Texas tradition, and is expected to marry a wealthy and respectable man who will honor the Cally name. Friends with Houston's richest and most prominent families, she's a beloved fixture at the social events big and small, and suffers no shortage of access to some of the city's most eligible bachelors. Preston Duffin has known Vivienne and her set since childhood. He's never shared their social aspirations or their status but is liked and respected for his sharp wit and intelligence. About to graduate from a prestigious architecture program, he is both fascinated and repelled by this group of friends he sits on the cusp of. He's long admired Vivienne's beauty and grace, but isn't sure he holds any place in such a traditional life. Intrigued by Preston's ambitions and the extent to which he challenges the only way of life she's ever known, Vivienne both courts Preston's attention, and rebuffs his critiques of her predictable and antiquated priorities and values.
Inspired by Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, Yvonne Georgina Puig's A Wife of Noble Character shares the original novel’s astute social commentary at the same time that it illuminates the trappings and rewards of coming of age that are wholly unique to the twenty-first century. Charming and shrewd at once, this Texas love story takes readers from Houston to Paris and Switzerland and back again, and will speak to both fans of Wharton and anyone who has every struggled to find their way in life.
Praise for A Wife of Noble Character
"A fun take on Edith Wharton's classic."—Marie Claire
“A Wife of Noble Character is equal parts wry social commentary and heart-fluttering romance — an insightful journey for both the head and the heart.” —Refinery29
“This sharply drawn novel about Houston's oil-money elite strikes a beautiful balance—rollicking at times while deeply felt at others.”—Elle.com
“A compelling and complicated love story…The characters hearken back to Wharton’s while still not feeling like archetypes, and the interior narration matches the introspective style of Wharton’s writing.”—Book Riot
“A Wife of Noble Character possesses something that is intrinsically Houstonian: a sense of humor. . . Apparently, no matter how far you move, Houston sticks with you; Puig has the local milieu down cold.”—Texas Monthly
"In this vivid, socially acute novel of manners set in oil-money Houston society, Yvonne Puig charms us with prose and braces us with insight—a masterful, sharp-eyed and eloquent debut." —Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint it Black
"A fresh, funny look at what it means to be an adult in the 21st century and a juicy Texan comedy of manners, at its heart, A Wife of Noble Character is a good old fashioned love story." —Sarah Bird, author of Above the East China Sea
“A Wife of Noble Character is a wildly unique creation: A social novel that is simultaneously classic and utterly modern. I found it sharply insightful, lyrically written, and often laugh-out-loud funny; and could barely put it down until the last page. Puig is a talented satirist and a breathtakingly astute observer of character."—Janelle Brown, author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
HALL WAYS REVIEW:
"Vivienne knew how gratifying it was to triumph before her peers, to live up to their standards. . . Preston seemed only to have himself to live up to, and how could that be enough?"
Such is the line of thinking by our main character, Vivienne, as author Yvonne Georgina Puig introduces us to her and Houston's elite set. Vivienne is thirty, stunningly beautiful, and has a last name that opens doors and carries weight among the wealthy socialites. But the story doesn't quite go where expected or allow itself to be defined. It's not a love story -- or even a romance for that matter -- and with Vivienne, looks are deceiving as she doesn't actually have any money but lives, thinks, and acts as if she does (until she doesn't). It is close to the half-way point of the book, as Vivienne's self-imposed framework starts to crumble, that A Wife of Noble Character really gets interesting.
Don't let the gorgeous (#CoverLove) cover of the book fool you: this isn't a genteel, literary story; it is at times crass and blunt and oh-so-real, which shakes-up readers' comfort zones. The juxtaposition of who Vivienne appears to be and who she really is shows up in unexpected moments, where the author forces readers to reconsider their definitions of Vivienne -- even as Vivienne reconsiders them herself. Puig provides a rich cast of characters to surround Vivienne, and she absolutely nails the Texas good ol' boy mindset and the larger-than-life, monied matriarch who dishes out sexist advice with a healthy dose of "bless your heart."
For this reader, the book went from good to great, and then the ending and epilogue made it an outstanding book. As we say in Texas (and elsewhere I'm sure), I had a shit-eating grin on my face by the time I read the last line.
Thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and Henry Holt & Co. for providing me a (have I said GORGEOUS?) print copy in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give.
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