A More Obedient Wife; A Novel of the Early Supreme Court

Price: 45.00 USD

Washington, DC: Kalorama Press, 2006. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. [4], ii, 442, [4] pages. Illustrations. Signed by the author on the title page. Natalie L. Wexler is an education journalist, novelist, and historian. She is a graduate of Radcliffe College (A.B. 1976), where she wrote for the Harvard Crimson. She also has degrees from the University of Sussex (M.A. 1977), and the University of Pennsylvania Law School (J.D. 1983), where she was editor-in-chief of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. After graduating law school, she worked as a law clerk for Judge Alvin Rubin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and then for Associate Justice Byron White of the United States Supreme Court. She practiced law with Bredhoff & Kaiser in Washington, D.C. She later served as associate editor of the eight-volume The Documentary History of the Supreme Court, 1789-1800, and her articles and essays have appeared in the Washington Post Magazine, The American Scholar, and The Gettysburg Review, among other places. Wexler is the co-author, with Judith C. Hochman, of The Writing Revolution. Wexler's award-winning first novel, A More Obedient Wife, is based on the lives and letters of two early Supreme Court justices and their wives. Her second novel, The Mother Daughter Show, is a satire set at an elite Washington, DC private school, where the mothers of graduating senior girls write and perform an annual musical revue. Wexler's third novel, The Observer, is based on the experiences of a woman who lived in early 19th-century Baltimore and was the first American woman to edit a magazine. Derived from a Kirkus review: The ghost of a love affair, excavated from long-forgotten letters. Two Jameses and two Hannahs make for heated emotions in this ambitious historical drama that injects some illicit romance into the lives of long-dead American noblemen. Wexler, a former Supreme Court law clerk, has devoted considerable effort to shedding light on a historical controversy with a well-researched work of fiction. Her novel inspired an article Wexler composed for The American Scholar about the lives and wives of two early justices of the United States Supreme Court, James Iredell and James Wilson. The book extends the article's intriguing premise that Iredell, a Revolutionary War essayist who was appointed to the bench by George Washington, strayed into a not-altogether-indiscreet relationship with Wilson's wife. Here, Hannah Gray Wilson is a young, attractive and emotional socialite who beguiles the much older man with her coquettish charms. Wexler imagines, based on historical evidence in her letters, that the affair did not sit well with Iredell's pathologically shy wife (also named Hannah). The story of Mr. Iredell and Mrs. Wilson's clandestine relationship is revealed through the fictional diaries of both Hannahs, punctuated with the real letters sent between the husbands and their wives, as well as occasional observations by other historical figures, like a young John Quincy Adams. Wexler has absorbed the language, rhythm and nuances of the letters to such a degree that her narrative flows together with them seamlessly. For those captivated by historical drama, this novel experiment may well be tempting, and devotees of Supreme Court history will find much to absorb. There is some interesting interplay between the two judges-friends by all accounts-trying to keep the nation on a steady course as they struggle to keep their own houses in order. Presumed first edition/first printing. Very good.

ISBN: 9780615135168


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