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The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
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The House of Mirth (original 1905; edition 2004)

by Edith Wharton, Jeffrey Meyers (Introduction)

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6,825150539 (4.04)611
Member:ladydzura
Title:The House of Mirth
Authors:Edith Wharton
Other authors:Jeffrey Meyers (Introduction)
Info:Barnes & Noble Classics (2004), Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:@own: to be read

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The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (1905)

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English (145)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Hungarian (1)  Piratical (1)  English (150)
Showing 1-5 of 145 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed reading Edith Wharton's "The House of Mirth." It's definitely a typical Wharton novel... but I've liked all that I've read by her, so this novel was certainly up my alley.

The novel is the story of Lily Bart, a poor girl who is pretty enough to hang around with the rich New York society people. She is dependent on the kindness of her friends, who are fickle, and really has to find a husband with money to keep up her expensive tastes, but can't seem to commit to spending her life with a bore who has a fat wallet.

Wharton does a great job painting Bart's character as a woman who struggles with what she wants and how to get that in the narrow corridor society has laid for her. I really enjoyed how the story progressed and peeling back the layers of Bart's character. ( )
  amerynth | Oct 27, 2016 |
Two words: So. Depressing. ( )
  GoldenDarter | Sep 15, 2016 |
Edith Wharton's writing was excellent but the story got tenuously long towards the end.
  siok | Sep 11, 2016 |
Brilliant, heartbreaking and often hilarious. Just three adjectives that come to mind to describe this stunning piece of literature by the fabulous Edith Wharton. The density of language packed such a huge wollop but also delivered such a simple message. The beautiful turns of phrase illuminated both the certainty and confusion of Lily's life. While Lily seemed so sure of her path, she was indeed confused and battered by the circumstances in which she found herself. The crushing weight of her beauty and its attendant expectations along with the strictures of the society into which she was born placed Lily in a really untenable situation. Simply loved this book. ( )
  Maureen_McCombs | Aug 19, 2016 |
Story cloaked in too many words, describing a very superficial woman and lifestyle. ( )
  Pmaurer | Aug 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 145 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (45 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
Pirè, LucianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wenzell, A. B.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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)

» see all 19 descriptions

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