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The Age of Innocence [Norton Critical…

The Age of Innocence [Norton Critical Editions]

by Edith Wharton

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Newland Archer is engaged but is attracted to the married cousing of his fiancee. An interesting look into upperclass New York life at the end of the 1800's. I found Newland to be rather annoying and like both women far more than I liked him. ( )
  RachelNF | Jan 15, 2016 |
A bit disappointing ( )
  DianeZuloaga | Apr 3, 2010 |
This Pulitzer Prize winner examines New York’s upper crust society through the life and decisions of Newland Archer. Archer hails from one of New York’s top families and his engagement to sweet May Welland sets him up for a lifetime of perfect affluence – and perfect monotony. He doesn’t seem to mind, until May’s cousin, Ellen Olenska arrives. Fleeing from an unhappy marriage to a Polish Count, ‘Poor Ellen’ looks and acts differently than the rest of society. Archer is captivated by her freshness and under her influence, begins to view his social circle through a new lens.

I was captivated by this book. When I started reading, I did so more because it was a ‘classic’ than because I was interested in the plot. By the second chapter, I was completely hooked by the clever satire and wittiness, by the ridiculous and hilarious characters, and by Edith Wharton’s lovely, lovely writing. She painted every scene with such detail that I could almost hear the faint opera strains wafting from the pages and see the questionable dishes presented by the Archer’s lackluster chef.

What I most enjoyed about Wharton’s writing was her ability to subject this elite world to such exacting scrutiny without ever appearing bitter or mean-spirited. In fact, she often did so with humor:

The immense accretion of flesh which had descended on her in middle life like a flood of lava on a doomed city had changed her from a plump active little woman with a neatly-turned foot and ankle into something as vast and august as a natural phenomenon.

As for the characters and their stories, I followed Archer and May’s and Archer and Ellen’s relationships with great interest. I struggled with which to cheer for, as I found great beauty and great flaw in each of the potential pairings. I don’t want to give away the end, but I ended the book with very mixed feelings. I wanted to keep reading. I wanted things to end differently. And I was surprised by how much I had misjudged several of the characters.

If you haven’t yet had the chance to read this book, please go find a copy. It really was lovely.

http://decklededges.wordpress.com/2009/07/02/review-the-age-of-innocence/ ( )
1 vote decklededges | Aug 15, 2009 |
After reading The Age of Innocence I can understand why it is considered a classic. The writing is excellent. It is elegant. But since this book was written of 80 years ago, it makes it harder to read. In fact it was slow going. It wasn't that Wharton used words unfamiliar to me but the style made me slow down and absorb what was being written and going on.

I am going to say that this is a character based novel. While not as in depth John Steinbeck's East of Eden, the characters (mainly Archer and Olenska) take center stage. I would love to say that I really felt in touch with the characters and that I loved them but I was rather indifferent to them. Maybe because this is a story about old New York society and it's inhabitants and I just couldn't wait. But Wharton does put a lot of emphasis of making sure the reader knows and understands the characters and there actions.

The plot of the books was familiar but excellently done. Basically it is a story about "forbidden love" and the chooses people make in their lives and how those chooses affect them later. I am not going to give the story way but I did enjoy getting to take a glimpse into the varies rules of old New York and how they dictates ones actions and decisions.

Pros: Writing, Characters, Plot, History
Cons: Slow read

Overall Recommendation:

I want to give this novel a great write up but I don't know how to express who much I enjoyed the book. I enjoyed it more for the writing than anything else. For you want to read a well written story than this is it. But if you are looking for action or drama, than skip it. ( )
  MoniqueReads | Jun 9, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393967948, Paperback)

Somewhere in this book, Wharton observes that clever liars always come up with good stories to back up their fabrications, but that really clever liars don't bother to explain anything at all. This is the kind of insight that makes The Age of Innocence so indispensable. Wharton's story of the upper classes of Old New York, and Newland Archer's impossible love for the disgraced Countess Olenska, is a perfectly wrought book about an era when upper-class culture in this country was still a mixture of American and European extracts, and when "society" had rules as rigid as any in history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:29 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"Edith Wharton's most famous novel, written immediately after the end of the First World War, is an anatomy of New York society in the 1870s, the world in which she grew up, and from which she spent her life escaping. Newland Archer, Wharton's protagonist, charming, tactful, enlightened, is a thorough product of this society; he accepts its standards and abides by its rules but he also recognizes its limitations. His engagement to the impeccable May Welland assures him of a safe and conventional future, until the arrival of May's cousin Ellen Olenska puts all his plans in jeopardy. Independent, free-thinking, scandalously separated from her husband, Ellen forces Archer to question the values and assumptions of his narrow world. As their love for each other grows, Archer has to decide where his ultimate loyalty lies."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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