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Hardcover Wild Heart: A Life: Natalie Clifford Barney's Journey from Victorian America to the Literary Salons of Paris Book

ISBN: 0066213657

ISBN13: 9780066213651

Wild Heart: A Life: Natalie Clifford Barney's Journey from Victorian America to the Literary Salons of Paris

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

Born in 1876, Natalie Barney-beautiful, charismatic, brilliant and wealthy-was expected to marry well and lead the conventional life of a privileged society woman. But Natalie had no interest in... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings


This well written, well constructed and well researched biography of Natalie Clifford Barney was one of the more satisfying works in this genre that I have read in recent years. Ms. Barney, who is now unfortunately forgotten for the most part, was one of the more colorful, influential and interesting characters this country produced during the late 1800s until the time of her death in 1972. While some of her personal literary works might be called into question, although I must say, she was not half bad, the impact she had upon literary Paris during a crucial four or five decades cannot be ignored. One of my primary literary interests centers upon the group of men and women known, per Gertrude Stein, as the "Lost Generation." To understand this group of writers, to understand the influences that guided their pens, it is imperative, in my opinion, to know of what occurred before their arrival on the scene. There is no doubt what so ever that that Natalie Barney was a major player in this epic, and therefore a major influence on what, again, in my opinion, was the Golden Age of the American novel. Secondly, I have a fascination for odd historical characters, those that chose to follow a different drummer so to speak, and have added so much to our culture, even if we are not aware of it. As an example, I have spent years reading and collecting biographies of Sir. Richard Burton, the famed English explorer, linguist and professional rebel and reading his works. These characters attract and fascinate me. Miss Barney fits this category in spades. Natalie Barney realized and became aware of the fact at a very early age that she was sexually attracted to women and not men. Her first major seduction was that of Eva Palmer, when she was seventeen and shortly after that she went to Paris where the popular and leading courtesan Liane de Pougy quickly became her next major conquest and her long time lover (among many, many others, many quite famous and well known). Throughout her life, Barney had literally hundreds of lovers; some were long time affairs, some short of duration lasting no more than one evening. The fact that she was a lesbian is important on at least two fronts. She seemed to have a hypnotic effect on women (and men to, for that matter), although being filthy rich, extremely good looking, and mentally brilliant, certainly did not hurt. First, she not only "came out" in an era where this type of behavior simply was not acceptable, but in addition, she actually flaunted it. Secondly, it is important because her lesbianism was a central aspect of her being. To understand her, we must understand this aspect of her life. Miss Barney grew up in a very privileged family, i.e. she and her families were rich, very, very rich. This pretty much allowed her to do things and live a life style that was impossible for someone without almost unlimited wealth. This carried through until the day she died. She simply never had to worry abo

I went "wild" over this book

Couldn't believe I liked it so much. Fascinating. As one review said it spans "the backdrop of two different societies, Victorian America and Belle Époque Europe," and I might add many different phases of 20th century history, including the World Wars. It was a long book and I was wondering how much one could say about an avant-garde lesbian, but then the period was so rich and Natalie personified much of what was interesting about it.

Curl Up With It

Suzanne Rodriguez brings 1920s Pairs to life in the pages of Wild Heart; A Life. If you like biographies, European history, Paris, or are Natalie Barney fan, this is the book for you. To be honest, even if you have never heard of Natalie Barney, it's still a great read. As a writer, I found the accounts of Ms. Barney's famous "Fridays" (her Paris salon) very intriguing. Oh, what a treat it would be to go back in time and attend just one!! Ms. Rodriguez makes you feel like you are there, with vivid descriptions about the interpersonal interactions of some of the more famous (and infamous) Friday attendees. Ms. Rodriguez is a first-rate biographer, as she lets her subject's life gracefully unfold, rather than pushing it on the reader. She also interjects interesting historical tid-bits and she has a way of subtly adding her own personality to the tome. Buy it, curl up and escape! It's a great read.

A Rocket Ride!

What fun! I can't recommend this wonderful, entertaining book highly enough. This is the way biography ought to be written - with verve and excitement. The historical backdrop is huge and magnificent. Miss Barney, whether you love her or hate her, is an amazing character. Despite the book's grand design and sweeping scope, I never got lost or confused. However, a biographical list of people would have been helpful (halfway through the book, while perusing the natalie barney website, I learned that the author provided such a list online).

couldn't put this book down

I couldn't put this book down. More than that I was astonished by the amount of research and historical accuracy done in a novelistic form. Not only interesting and intriguing, but the author brought this unique era alive. Her forte, obviously is 20's Paris and the characters inhabiting this lost time. I hope her first book, Found Meals of the Lost Generation comes back on the shelves...I want to read it too!
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