Thursday, July 5, 2012

Claire McMillan

Claire McMillan is the author of Gilded Age, inspired by Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth (Simon and Schuster June 2012).

She grew up in and around Pasadena, California, but for some reason people always ask if she grew up in Philadelphia.

She is a recovering attorney, having practiced complex corporate litigation in San Francisco for six years.

She holds an MFA in creative writing from Bennington College.

She currently lives on her husband’s family’s farm, about a half hour outside Cleveland, with her husband and their two children.

A few weeks ago I asked McMillan what she was reading. Her reply:
I just finished reading The Last Nude by Ellis Avery, a novel based on the love affair between Tamara de Lempicka and her muse Rafaela. It’s super glamorous, erotic, and set in 1920’s Paris – all things I’m a total sucker for. The plot is solid - laced with twists and betrayals and changes in POV that keep you right with her and engaged until the end.

I recently read We Two, Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals by Gillian Gill after I saw an exhibit on them at Kensington Palace when I was in London in March. Albert signed his letters to Victoria, “ever your slave in body and soul.” That was it. Done. Had to know more. This dual biography scratched that itch.

I’ve been slowly savoring Amy King’s collection of poems I Want to Make You Safe. She’s so good on love and sex and birthing and decaying and dreaming and living. I mean, John Ashbery blurbed her. “You say you know me, understand my ways/ but people love their homes, their locks that work/ both ways.”

Finally, I reread Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, and it pretty much killed me. There is so much honesty and just humanity in that book. It’s like some perfect jewel. And I can’t take that when it came out in 1899 it caused a storm of controversy that ended her career before it had even started. Clearly I’m some kind of Kate Chopin zealot, but that book slays me every time I read it.
Visit Claire McMillan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue