The Magazine

Under British Eyes

Edmund White's novel about two real-life Fannys and their visits to America.

Jan 12, 2004, Vol. 9, No. 17 • By CYNTHIA GRENIER
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White's novel "Fanny" is, on the whole, a thoroughly engaging read. In the "acknowledgments," the author admits that much of his book relies on "invention"--Mrs. Trollope's passionate relations with the powerful blacksmith slave Cudjo, for example, and the sexual proclivities of the young French artist Auguste Hervieu, involving young Henry Trollope--some of which is less than convincing. Still, "Fanny" will have done an admirable job if it sends readers back to the original works of these two clever, witty Fannys, discoursing on the United States in its infant days.

Cynthia Grenier is a writer in Washington, D.C.