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House Of Mirth by Edith Wharton

House Of Mirth (original 1905; edition 2006)

by Edith Wharton

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6,554140579 (4.03)597
Title:House Of Mirth
Authors:Edith Wharton
Info:Virago (2006), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, literature, classic, american

Work details

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (1905)

  1. 110
    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (SandSing7)
    SandSing7: Wharton is as American as Austen is British. Read both works for a comparitive "across the pond" view on the novel of manners.
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English (135)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Hungarian (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (140)
Showing 1-5 of 135 (next | show all)
A wonderful novel of manners and the downfall of an overly-confident society wannabe. Lily is doomed no matter how much we root for her. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
House of Mirth Edith Wharton

The story of the 29 year old beautiful and intelligent socialite Lily Bart and her escapades to escape a life of "dinginess" by marrying a rich man.

Lily is a vivid colour seeming more real than those around her, we share her ups and downs and I was desperately rooting for her to realise the right man was there in front of her, whether she realised or not you will need to read the book to find out.

At points the story is funny and touching a good read.

( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
School curriculum dictated we read 'The Age of Innocence' so I read around it. Didn't really like this but then again I didn't massively like the Age of Innocence either! ( )
  sashinka | Jan 14, 2016 |
Unrelentingly and deliciously scathing, the novel reveals the superficiality and immorality of the 1890s New York upper class through the complex character of Lily Bart as she navigates the dangerous high society version of Snakes and Ladders without the antivenom nor an anchor.

Fully realised and flawed, Lily Bart is a character of contradictions: born in and bred for wealth yet poor, frivolous and vain yet self-perceptive. Though she may have been the protagonist, the volatile, monetary-based society was the real central figure, rendering it, plot-wise, impossible for Lily to make any realistic or heart-warming-fiction choices. This attention to characterisation turns what could have been stereotypical, superfluous roles into substantial, recognisable human beings, such as the well-meaning, sympathetic, almost-saintly Gerty with her private hopes and anguishes - not that there were not missteps with the uncomfortable Jewish stereotype presented in the ultimately-but-not-quite generous Rosedale.

Along with the beautiful stylistic devices - the shifting third-person point-of-view has an almost stream-of-consciousness flavour to it and the metaphors exquisitely original: No insect hangs its nest on threads as frail as those which will sustain the weight of human vanity. (pg 113) -, the novel's biting wit and deft characterisation combine to make this cautionary tale of a depraved society's hand in the creation and destruction of its own product all the more sadistically captivating and delectable. ( )
  kitzyl | Jan 5, 2016 |
"Read this" by listening to the Librivox recording read by Jan Moorehouse. I really enjoyed the novel and Jan's reading! Without the audio, this probably would have sat on my shelf for a few years and I may never have gotten to it, but I'm so glad that I listened to this recording. As the novel progressed I developed a great sympathy for the character of Lily, was amazed by some of Wharton's great prose, and reflected a bit about the way that class and societal pressures affect our lives. ( )
  LMPadilla | Dec 26, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (47 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wharton, Edithprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bawden, NinaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beer, JanetEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bron, EleanorNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brookner, AnitaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Caruso, BarbaraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fields, AnnaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewis, R. W. B.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McCaddon, WandaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Set in the opulent houses and glittering resorts of New York's fashionable society, this is the story of Lily Bart, beautiful, witty and sophisticated, accepted by "old money", courted by the growing tribe of nouveaux riches. But, as she nears thirty, her foothold becomes precarious: she needs a husband to preserve her social and financial standing, to maintain her in the luxury she craves. Many men have sought her, but something - fastidiousness, an uncomfortable intelligence or some deep-seated integrity - prevents her from making a "suitable" match. Watched by the admiring but impoverished Lawrence Selden, she struggles courageously with the difficulties caused by the growing threat of poverty and her contempt for hypocrisy - a contempt which compromises her position as an unmarried woman among "the ultra-fashionable dancing people". This novel, originally published in 1905, shocked the society it chronicles, portraying the moral, social and economic constraints on a spriited woman.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0486420493, Paperback)

"The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth," warns Ecclesiastes 7:4, and so does the novel by Edith Wharton that takes its title from this call to heed. New York at the turn of the century was a time of opulence and frivolity for those who could afford it. But for those who couldn't and yet wanted desperately to keep up with the whirlwind, like Wharton's charming Lily Bart, it was something else altogether: a gilded cage rather than the Gilded Age.

One of Wharton's earliest descriptions of her heroine, in the library of her bachelor friend and sometime suitor Lawrence Selden, indicates that she appears "as though she were a captured dryad subdued to the conventions of the drawing room." Indeed, herein lies Lily's problem. She has, we're told, "been brought up to be ornamental," and yet her spirit is larger than what this ancillary role requires. By today's standards she would be nothing more than a mild rebel, but in the era into which Wharton drops her unmercifully, this tiny spark of character, combined with numerous assaults by vicious society women and bad luck, ultimately renders Lily persona non grata. Her own ambivalence about her position serves to open the door to disaster: several times she is on the verge of "good" marriage and squanders it at the last moment, unwilling to play by the rules of a society that produces, as she calls them, "poor, miserable, marriageable girls.

Lily's rather violent tumble down the social ladder provides a thumbnail sketch of the general injustices of the upper classes (which, incidentally, Wharton never quite manages to condemn entirely, clearly believing that such life is cruel but without alternative). From her start as a beautiful woman at the height of her powers to her sad finale as a recently fired milliner's assistant addicted to sleeping drugs, Lily Bart is heroic, not least for her final admission of her own role in her downfall. "Once--twice--you gave me the chance to escape from my life and I refused it: refused it because I was a coward," she tells Selden as the book draws to a close. All manner of hideous socialite beasts--some of whose treatment by Wharton, such as the token social-climbing Jew, Simon Rosedale, date the book unfortunately--wander through the novel while Lily plummets. As her tale winds down to nothing more than the remnants of social grace and cold hard cash, it's hard not to agree with Lily's own assessment of herself: "I have tried hard--but life is difficult, and I am a very useless person. I can hardly be said to have an independent existence. I was just a screw or a cog in the great machine I called life, and when I dropped out of it I found I was of no use anywhere else." Nevertheless, it's even harder not to believe that she deserved better, which is why The House of Mirth remains so timely and so vital in spite of its crushing end and its unflattering portrait of what life offers up. --Melanie Rehak

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:03 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Lily Bart, beautiful, witty and sophisticated is accepted by 'old money' and courted by the growing tribe of nouveaux riches. But as she nears thirty, her foothold becomes precarious; a poor girl with expensive tastes, she needs a husband to preserve her social standing and to maintain her in the luxury she has come to expect. Whilst many have sought her, something - fastidiousness or integrity- prevents her from making a 'suitable' match.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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11 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140187294, 0141199024

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