An autobiography of perhaps the outstanding figure in American letters in the past twenty five years, and a book that everyone who has cared for Edith Wharton's books will want to read. It is, however, not fundamentally a ""popular"" autobiography, but rather a ""literary"" biography, the reminiscences of her human contacts, of her literary contacts, rather than an account of the events of her life and her emotional reactions. Amazingly vivid are the glimpses one gets of a long-past society in New York and Newport, material in her own experience that furnished the background for many of her books, particularly THE AGE OF INNOCENCE. The part that Henry James played in her life, the intimate glimpses she gives of that unique character, the analytical study of the man, in his relations to his work and to life -- this was to me the most fascinating part of the book. The scene between James and Meredith, with Edith Wharton characteristically silent, in the background, is unforgettable. Her searching into the position of the literary figure in New York -- in London -- in Paris, her unconscious defense of her own position, a trail blazer against odds that seemed then insurmountable, the psychological basis for the shortcomings of American letters of yesterday -- all this is of far greater interest than the slender thread of events outlining her own life. Her life was in her books and friends -- her voice spoke through them. And that is caught in the pattern of this book. The big non-fiction of the A-C list this Spring, and sure of wide publicity and advertising.