Vanderbes, Jennifer (Chase) 1974-
VANDERBES, Jennifer (Chase) 1974-
Writer and educator. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, PA, reporter; University of Wisconsin—Madison, James C. McCreight fiction fellow, 2000-01; Colgate University, Hamilton, NY, Olive B. O'Connor fellow in creative writing, 2001-02; Iowa Writers' Workshop, University of Iowa, Iowa City, visiting assistant professor, 2003-04.
Truman Capote fellow.
The Applicant (one-act play), produced in New York, NY, 2000.
Easter Island (novel), Dial (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor of short fiction to Best New American Voices 2000, edited by Tobias Wolff, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2000.
In 2003 Jennifer Vanderbes published her critically acclaimed debut novel Easter Island. In the work, Vanderbes interweaves the stories of two women, separated in age by sixty years, who discover the mysteries of Easter Island. In the Manchester Guardian, Rachel Hore called the work "part travel adventure, part absorbing scientific discovery, part love story."
Vanderbes was born and raised in New York City. Inspired by The Diary of Anne Frank, she began keeping a journal of her own at age twelve. Her interest in literature continued through high school and college, and while a student at Yale University, she enrolled in a class taught by Robert Stone that she credits as the turning point of her career. "He was not only devoted to his students and available," Vanderbes told Washington Post Book World contributor Marie Arana of Stone, "he was willing to say the uncomfortable thing." "By the end of a semester with him," Vanderbes added, "I'd written one hundred pages of solid stuff." A few years later, while researching archeological expeditions, Vanderbes came upon the idea for Easter Island.
The novel follows Elsa Pendleton, a young English-woman, and Greer Faraday, an American botanist. Following the death of her father in 1912, Pendleton hastily marries the much-older Edward Beazley, a Royal Geographic Society anthropologist who is assigned to study Easter Island's giant moai statues. The recently widowed Faraday arrives on the island in 1973, still grieving the husband who plagiarized her work, thus damaging their marriage. A third narrative, involving the fate of World War I German Admiral Graf Von Spee, is intertwined with the women's stories. "The heart of the story … is the island's impenetrable mysteriousness, and Vanderbes extracts considerable drama and tension from questions not susceptible to final answers," according to a Kirkus Reviews critic. A Publishers Weekly reviewer stated that the author "knows how to craft suspense, and the narratives—while with vivid historical and scientific detail—move forward on the strength of her fully realized characters."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Book, July-August, 2003, Penelope Mesic, review of Easter Island, p. 81.
Booklist, May 15, 2003, Marta Segal Block, review of Easter Island, p. 1641.
Christian Science Monitor, May 29, 2003, Ron Charles, "Enigmas in Stone."
Guardian (Manchester, England), May 24, 2003, Rachel Hore, review of Easter Island, p. 28.
Independent Sunday (London, England), May 10, 2003, review of Easter Island, p. 19.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2003, review of Easter Island, p. 569.
Library Journal, March 15, 2003, Barbara Hoffert, review of Easter Island, p. 118.
New York Times, June 15, 2003, Michael Upchurch, "Head Cases," p. 17.
Observer (London, England), May 18, 2003, Lisa Allardice, "Enigma Variation a la Mode," p. 17.
People, June 30, 2003, p. 41.
Publishers Weekly, May 19, 2003, review of Easter Island, p. 52.
San Francisco Chronicle, June 29, 2003, Megan Harlan, "Digging for Meaning on a Mysterious Island."
Times (London, England), May 10, 2003, Carola Longe, "Tendrils of Time," p. 19.
Vogue, March, 2003, Joanna Smith Rakoff, "Passionate Nomads," pp. 422-423.
Washington Post Book World, December 7, 2003, Maria Arana, "Jennifer Vanderbes: All in Her Head," p. 5.
Jennifer Vanderbes Easter Island Page,http://www.geocities.com/jvanderbes/ (April 26, 2004).*