The Open Door by Elizabeth Maguire
Elizabeth Maguire was born in New York City and had a distinguished twenty-five year career as an editor and publisher. She nurtured numerous prize-winning books and was especially known as a champion of African-American nonfiction and for her deep commitment to African-American writers. Maguire published one novel, Thinner, Blonder, Whiter (2003), during her lifetime. She had just completed her second novel, The Open Door, at the time of her death from ovarian cancer.
“The story is the journey, not the destination. Or so the philosopher’s say. But this is my story, and it has a beginning, a middle, and an end….”
The Open Door is a luminous and profoundly moving novel inspired by the life of Constance Fenimore Woolson, one of the most widely-read and respected American authors of the nineteenth century.
Exploring themes of passion, life, death, friendship, and art, the novel is a vivid evocation of the complex forces behind literary creation.After years of supporting her mother and a hapless brother through her writing, Constance finds herself in early middle age “hungry, ravenous to see and live as much as possible.”
She sails for Europe with a letter of introduction to Henry James, the writer she admires above all others. Constance is intoxicated by Europe, Italy in particular, and she and James eventually meet in Florence.