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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.
“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
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I had fun a lot of fun with the secondary characters—Randal, the wannabe-Texan dermatologist, Kitty, the ex-pat in Paris from Beaumont, and Blad, Vivienne’s close friend, a gay man who grew up in conservative neighborhood in Houston.
How does your book relate to your spiritual life?
It relates deeply to my spiritual life. I believe writing is a spiritual practice. And I believe inner growth must be spiritual if it is going to stick – and that requires ‘walking that lonesome valley by yourself,’ to paraphrase Woody Guthrie. I’m interested in how struggle shapes people spiritually, and I wanted Vivienne, the protagonist, to experience that.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
I also teach essay writing at USC. I find the balance challenging because I want to give teaching my all, but I admit that writing is always there in the back of my mind, sort of tapping me on the shoulder.
What do you like to read in your free time?
Novels, psychology books, books about faith.
What book do you wish you could have written?
The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers. That book still blows me away and makes my heart ache.
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?
Larry McMurtry and Edith Wharton above all. I’m inspired by McMurtry’s sense of humor and I love Wharton’s sharp eye and wit. Edith Wharton was also such an inspiring and courageous individual, someone who grew so much in her lifetime and remained devoted to her sense of wonder. I could go on and on about both of them.
Who would you cast to play your characters in a movie version of your book?
I would love to see Kathy Bates as Kitty.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
I don’t enjoy writing about myself. Never say never—but I can’t imagine writing a memoir.
What is something you want to accomplish before you die?
I would love to have a little bit of land to start a garden and create a sanctuary for rescued animals. I would also love to write a book that inspires children — a book that sparks their imaginations and helps them to believe in themselves.
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