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The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

The Age of Innocence (original 1920; edition 1998)

by Edith Wharton

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9,597228301 (4.03)5 / 929
Title:The Age of Innocence
Authors:Edith Wharton
Info:Scribner (1998), Edition: 1st Scribner Paperback Fiction Ed, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1920)

  1. 62
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (readerbabe1984)
  2. 41
    The Bostonians by Henry James (jbvm)
  3. 41
    The American by Henry James (2below)
    2below: Similar plot and themes--both deal with the issue of being an outsider. I find James' prose a bit more vigorous than Wharton's.
  4. 31
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (roby72)
  5. 42
    Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (readerbabe1984)
  6. 31
    The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald (TineOliver)
    TineOliver: Both look at love and marriage in the upper classes of New York society (however, at different time periods)
  7. 10
    The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles (kitzyl)
    kitzyl: Man engaged to conventional society finds himself attracted to an outcast who challenges the rigidity and hypocrisy of the era.
  8. 10
    The Europeans by Henry James (thatguyzero)
  9. 01
    The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West (amanda4242)
  10. 24
    Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (readerbabe1984)
1920s (14)

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English (219)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (1)  All (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All (226)
Showing 1-5 of 219 (next | show all)
This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge's Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge's Exalted Permission. Title: The Age of Innocence Series: ------ Author: Edith Wharton Rating: 4 of 5 Stars Genre: Classic Pages: 305 Synopsis: Newland Archer marries one woman while loving another. And while the ending isn't a horrible double murder/suicide, [ha] it is just as empty and meaningless. My Thoughts: I really enjoyed reading this. Wharton was a master wordsmith and her skill at weaving a story together just kept me tied to the pages. Each weekend that I'd read my allotted 25% was something that I looked forward to. It has been awhile since I've had a book like this. With that being said... This has to be one of the saddest, emptiest books I've read in quite some time as well. Newland is tied down with Convention, hoisted up on a cross of Ideals, that are based on Nothing. There is nothing worse than Empty Ideals. It is like seeing someone wrapped in chains and being thrown into a pool of piranhas. One little difference and those Empty Ideals can be Ideals and those chains can become Life Lines, offering escape from those piranhas. Bleh. As much as I enjoyed this, I don't think I'll be reading any more by Wharton. I do not want to fill my Mind with this depressing stuff. I also know I used a lot of Caps. I'm just in that kind of mood right now. I could write a lot about this book, but you know what? I don't want to. The above encapsulates everything I need to know so in 10 years I can remember why I didn't read anymore of Wharton. I still recommend this book. Weird, isn't it? " ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
This must be Wharton's best. Just perfect. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Pulitzer Prize winner of 1921 is a portrait of New York on the precipice of change. Old New York has it's rules and society but things are changing as the people cling to their ways. Newland Archer is marrying May Welland. Her cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska returns to the US from a bad marriage with a plan to divorce but she is persuaded not because it isn't the way it is done. Newland champion's Ellen at his wife to be wish and his own desire and soon he is on the outside of all his and her relatives because of his support of Ellen when the rest of New York society withdraws their support of Ellen and wish her to return to her foreign husband. A crisis of decision is interrupted by Newland's wife's clever moves. Here is a quote that I liked, "For such a summer dreams it was too late; but surely not for a quiet harvest of friendship, of comradeship, in the blessed hush of her nearness. ( )
  Kristelh | Oct 28, 2016 |
I'm calling it quits at page 39, although I don't like having unfinished books on my shelf. I'm disappointed, but I just can't get into this book. ( )
  JennysBookBag.com | Sep 28, 2016 |
There's a disease afoot in 1870's Old New York named society, of which one Newland Archer has caught an incurable strain. The warning signs? An impending marriage that you feel the need to stress isn't arranged but oh, how convenient it is; the gentlemanly contemplation of a condescending proprietorship of your betrothed as an attractive commodity; falling in 'love' with someone you don't know... at all... because she happens to present something different and you happen to be bored with all the dust gathering about your person as of late. Treatments to at least resume quality of life? Bring on the leeches!!! Wait, no, what?!

Phew! That escalated almost as quickly as a late 19th century doctor to bloodletting. Annnd it's out of my system. Ahem.

I like historical fiction. I also like several classic authors who wrote during and/or of the Victorian era. Because of this, I didn't find a growing love of Edith Wharton's writing to be a surprising denouement whilst reading [b:The Buccaneers|856190|The Buccaneers|Edith Wharton|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347659567s/856190.jpg|1483593]. I was interested to see if this burgeoning would continue throughout other books, however. It has.

What I most enjoy about historical fiction is that it offers a enhanced perspective of the present; I think this is one of the reasons I enjoy Wharton's writing as much as I do. She seems to fill her stories to the brim with relevance whether it be emotional, political, societal, gendered, etc.

In The Age of Innocence which was alluded to, interestingly, as a counterpart to Henry James' Portrait of a Lady in my edition's introduction, there really isn't a host of likable characters. Wharton is writing of high society [read wealthy, or pretending to be, snobs who are dead bored of themselves and everyone around them but petrified of new blood and scandals - though they sure love to gossip about both]. However, Wharton's style gifts her unlikable characters with an understandable air. Enough that a reader can follow the all-too-convoluted roundabouts of who is related to who, who's marrying who, and what all the Whos think about the Other Whos. This is what kept me reading and kept me enjoying what I was reading rather than any particular loyalty of feeling towards the characters.

On the surface, Newland Archer is a immature/naive product of his social circle who has ideas that lean modern but prefers the practice of old lace high society and a wife he can shape as he sees fit. From Wharton's pen, however, he becomes a person suffused with human need like any other.

“The taste of the usual was like cinders in his mouth, and there were moments when he felt as if he were being buried alive under his future.”

I love that her writing proffers that balance. That we do see thought process emerge from Archer, that the narrative is not driven simply by his impulse but his struggle with the warring mantles of both duty and impulse. That she offers up a character with nuance that fits his surroundings rather than a characterization of 'male in 1870's NY' though she is still able to capture that societal mindset.

I could continue to ramble at this point; I decided I needed to finish this tonight so I'm hopped up on a good book and I've drunk my body weight in coffee. I think it's more simplistic, and more realistic prior to my impending caffeine crash, to say that Wharton is an author you need to read. Her writing is intelligent yet accessible and her plots offer a wealth to think on. When people talk about seeing the future through the past, they're talking about material like Wharton's books. She does for the all too oft hypocrisy of gendered issues and the futility/arrogance of incestuous societies what Dickens did for Chancery in Bleak House. ( )
  lamotamant | Sep 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 219 (next | show all)
So how can Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence possibly be the greatest New York novel of all time? Well, it is. It builds itself, obsessively, out of all the essential New York themes.
The appearance of such a book as "The Age of Innocence" by an American is a matter for public rejoicing. It is one of the best novels of the twentieth century and looks like a permanent addition to literature.

» Add other authors (96 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wharton, Edithprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Auchincloss, LouisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dayne, BrendaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horovitch, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howard, MaureenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, DianeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewis, R.W.B.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lively, PenelopeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orgel, StephenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raver, LornaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shore, StephenPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Lawrence BeallIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On a January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in Faust at the Academy of Music in New York.
And he felt himself oppressed by this creation of factitious purity, so cunningly manufactured by a conspiracy of mothers and aunts and grandmothers and long-dead ancestresses, because it was supposed to be what he wanted, what he had a right to, in order that he might exercise his lordly pleasure in smashing it like an image made of snow.
It was the old New York way of taking life" without effusion of blood": the way of people who dreaded scandal more than disease, who placed decency above courage, and who considered that nothing was more ill-bred than "scenes", except the behavior of those who gave rise to them.
When he thought of Ellen Olenska it was abstractly, serenely, as one might think of some imaginary beloved in a book or a picture: she had become the composite vision of all that he had missed.
"That terrifying product of the social system he belonged to and believed in, the young girl who knew nothing and expected everything, looked back at him like a stranger through May Welland's familiar features; and once more it was borne in on him that marriage was not the safe anchorage he had been taught to think, but a voyage on uncharted seas."
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
In the conformist, closed world of upper-class New York, Newland Archer anticipates his marriage to May Welland, a young girl "who knew nothing and expected everything". Into this ordered arrangement bursts May's cousin, Ellen, the mysterious and exotic Countess Olenska, on the run from an appallingly unhappy marriage. She alternately captivates and outrages the New York milieu and, as Newland's sympathy for her deepens into love, he not only gains insight into the brutality of society's treatment of women, but discovers the real anguish of loving outside its rules. Critical, compassionate, and acutely perceptive about both the individual and the defensiveness of society, The Age of Innocence is perhaps Edith Wharton's finest work.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 159308143X, 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 18:23:34 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Newland Archer begins to question the values of high society in Victorian New York when he finds himself torn between two very different women--his proper young fiancee and her exotic cousin.

(summary from another edition)

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Editions: 1909438820, 1909438839

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