Gee, Sophie 1974-
Gee, Sophie 1974-
Writer and academician. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, assistant professor of English, 2002—. Visiting lecturer at University College London.
The Scandal of the Season (novel), Scribner (New York, NY), 2007.
Sophie Gee is an Australian-born writer and academician. She grew up in Paddington, Australia, and graduated from the University of Sydney in 1995 with a degree in English. Her thesis focused on the writings of English author Evelyn Waugh. Gee later was awarded a scholarship to attend Harvard University and graduated with a Ph.D. in English literature in 2002. Her dissertation covered pollution, filth, and satire in the eighteenth century. In a Sydney Morning Herald interview with Michael Williams, Gee explained that "my argument was that writers are often most interested in the very things that their culture discards and despises." Months after being awarded her degree, Gee began working as an assistant professor of English at Princeton University. Her undergraduate and graduate courses range from the literary works of John Milton and Jane Austen to the history of satire. Her contributions to academic journals include topics on Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, and general interest articles on Australia and the United States.
In 2007 Gee published her first novel, The Scandal of the Season. The story is a reversal of Alexander Pope's famous satirical poem, "The Rape of Lock." Pope converted a local scandal into a poem, securing his notoriety with its success. Gee, in turn, took the poem and recast the historical figures in the poem within the context of the society and other noteworthy personalities of eighteenth-century London.
Reviews for Gee's debut novel were mostly positive. A contributor to the New Yorker wrote that Gee has a talent for writing, "underpinning the racy intrigue of her account with a real understanding of the characters." Cynthia Johnson, writing in Library Journal, felt differently, remarking that an "overabundance of historical detail intrudes, slowing the pace and distancing the reader from the characters." Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Gideon Lewis-Kraus found that Gee "excels with the book's outsider intellectuals, Pope and Martha Blount." Writing in the London Independent, Sarah Bakewell stated: "Gee's great strength is her command of the language. A literary historian, she pitches her 18th-century dialogue just right, avoiding both anachronism and archaism. Her confidence frees her characters to act naturally, so that we instinctively respond even when (as historical characters should) they behave in ways unfamiliar to us." A contributor to Publishers Weekly noticed that "the novel is sprinkled with literary cameos and jokes English lit majors will appreciate." Kathryn Hughes, writing in the London Guardian, believed that "Gee manages to show us a society in action rather than merely describing it." Hughes added that Gee writes "with all the flair of Georgette Heyer, which is to say that she does it very well" and "knows her period inside out, and recreates it with a kind of loving joy." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews described the novel as "delightfully gossipy, psychologically insightful, and historically fascinating." Luan Gaines, writing on the Curled Up with a Good Book Web site, described the novel as a "clever take on society's foibles in pursuit of favor and personal aggrandizement."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Books, June 2, 2007, Kristin Kloberdanz, review of The Scandal of the Season, p. 7.
Guardian (London, England), September 15, 2007, Kathryn Hughes, review of The Scandal of the Season.
Independent (London, England), September 7, 2007, Sarah Bakewell, review of The Scandal of the Season.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2007, review of The Scandal of the Season.
Library Journal, July 1, 2007, Cynthia Johnson, review of The Scandal of the Season, p. 76.
New Yorker, July 30, 2007, review of The Scandal of the Season, p. 85.
New York Times Book Review, September 9, 2007, Gideon Lewis-Kraus, review of The Scandal of the Season, p. 29.
Publishers Weekly, May 14, 2007, review of The Scandal of the Season, p. 29; June 11, 2007, "PW Talks with Sophie Gee: Imagining the 18th Century In-Crowd," p. 36.
Sydney Morning Herald, May 19, 2007, Michael Williams, author interview.
USA Today, August 23, 2007, Olivia Barker, review of The Scandal of the Season, p. 5.
Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (November 24, 2007), Luan Gaines, review of The Scandal of the Season.
Sophie Gee Home Page,http://www.sophiegee.com (November 24, 2007), author biography.