New Books: The Gilded Edge by Catherine Prendergast
The Gilded Edge: Two Audacious Women and the Cyanide Love Triangle that Shook America by Catherine Prendergast
New book featuring Nora May French, Carrie Sterling, and George Sterling
Nora May French and Carrie Sterling arrive at Carmel-by-the-Sea at the turn of the twentieth century with dramatically different ambitions. Nora, a stunning, brilliant, impulsive writer in her early twenties, seeks artistic recognition and bohemian refuge among the most celebrated counterculturalists of the era. Carrie, long-suffering wife of real estate developer George Sterling, wants the opposite: a semblance of the stability she thought her advantageous marriage would offer, now that her philandering husband has taken to writing poetry.
After her second abortion, Nora finds herself in a desperate situation but is rescued by an invitation to stay with the Sterlings. To Carrie’s dismay, George and the arrestingly beautiful poetess fall instantly into an affair. The ensuing love triangle, which ultimately ends with the deaths of all three, is more than just a wild love story and a fascinating forgotten chapter. It questions why Nora May—in her day a revered poet whose nationally reported suicide gruesomely inspired youths across the country to take their own lives, with her verses in their pockets no less—has been rendered obscure by literary history. It depicts America at a turning point, as the Gilded Age groans in its death throes and young people, particularly young women, look toward a bright, progressive, more egalitarian future.
“The Gilded Edge is a gripping tale set in the bohemian culture of Gilded Age California. Prendergast paints an electrifying portrait of a tragic love triangle, featuring the beautiful young poet, Nora May French, her counterpoint, the pragmatic Carrie Sterling, and Carrie’s philandering husband, George. With skill, humor, and biting insight, Prendergast reveals the cost of being a woman in a world dominated by men, placing the stories of the women center stage. A brilliant historian, Prendergast also tells the story of her own quest to find out what really happened, including herself in the story in surprising and fascinating ways. A page turner, The Gilded Edge reads like a mystery novel. A poignant and fascinating story of the past, but also a story of the writer herself.”—Charlotte Gordon, Author of Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley, The Woman Who Named God, and Mistress Bradstreet