Book Review: A Wife of Noble Character: A Novel by Yvonne Georgina Puig

A Wife of Noble Character: A Novel by Yvonne Georgina Puig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth gets a retelling in modern day Houston here and I rather enjoyed it. The main characters of Vivienne Cally and Preston Duffin, made this a page turner and so did the supporting characters (to a lesser extent). Watching Vivienne live a life of keeping up appearances with a social bracket she couldn't afford was depressing but watching her basically pushed out of continuing as she began and also losing access to the hoped for family inheritance and forced to make her own way, made for a riveting read. I haven't read a book about a character so deeply addled with an arrested development in a while and this was very well done.

Preston, also had his own challenges but this was really Vivienne's story for me. I also have to give points to the writing for Karlie. She was the "friend" in the group that I never understood as she seemed to be a vituperative, grasping thing where everyone else was concerned (truly, why would Waverly, in all her saintly kindness express the insanity required to keep trying with her?). I never knew what to make of Karlie or her presence but I did want her to receive some sort of comeuppance for her deeds. In addition, I felt a bit let down on the Aunt Katherine front. She's expressed in this story as a tell not a show so she never much materialized as anything more than a spectre that loomed large in Vivienne's mind. I wanted more so I could form more of a sense of Katherine. Still, even with these two wants going unanswered, I very much enjoyed reading this. In random things I learned reading this, chewing tobacco is called dip & its result is called dip spit

I bought this a while ago because it sounded great but the unfortunate cover (grey and pink drawing) made me pass it by over and over. I'm glad I finally picked it up and also see there's an improved cover for another edition that I think is much more attractive. Definitely recommended. Great weekend or lunchtime read (I warn you, I began this at lunch and couldn't put it down after so... at your own peril).

Summary:  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. 

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