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The Age of Innocence won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize. The story is set in upper class New York City in the 1870s. The Age of Innocence centers on an upper class couple's impending marriage, and the introduction of a woman plagued by scandal whose presence threatens their happiness. Though the novel questions the assumptions and morals of 1870's New York society, it never devolves into an outright condemnation. In fact, Wharton considered this novel an apology for her earlier, more brutal and critical novel, The House of Mirth.
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ISBN: 9781625583055
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I found Laural Merlington's narration to be excellent, especially her voice of Ellen Olenska.

(listened to May 2013)more
Big characters lashing emotions big and small left and right while at the same time trying to keep very agreeable with the norms of a society busy with busying itself with... itself, mostly. Freedom and individual views are not the norm and are frowned upon, and "innocence" is more or less well-played, but certainly not what is really going on. The futility of the attempts to do as one really pleases teaches the misbehaving ones a lot about the society around them, and about themselves. Wharton plays her characters back and forth, especially the two main ones, until we do not fully understand their motivation. Are their emotions real and what are they? Their actions and reactions are not always easy to comprehend, but still they remain real, and very human-like: failing, lying and cheating. Strong forces and "values" of the society play with characters at will. No one is safe and no one seems to be able to trust his next of kin or friend. The end of innocence happens on many levels and Wharton is particularly skillful in playing with meanings, tones, ironies to show us just how lowly the society has fallen (or has always been).more
I came into this story with a lot of expectations. Basically, I expected it to be about the amorous affair between Newland Archer and Ellen Olenska, his wife's cousin. While it was about their love, it turned out not to be about adultery. Oh yeah, spoiler, sorry. I figure most people already know what this is about because they've seen the movie.

Actually, the movie, which I have not actually seen, is what gave me the wrong idea. The most famous image from the film is of Archer (Daniel Day Lewis) passionately kissing Madame Olenska's (Michelle Pfeiffer's) neck. Thus the assumption that they were getting busy. Anyway, false. Turns out the book is more of a slow-moving look at how society puts constraints on people such that they cannot be with the person they love.

Madame Olenska married a Russian man and turned out to be fabulously unhappy despite her resulting wealth. She ran away to New York, where she fell for her cousin's fiancee. Ellen hoped to obtain a divorce, but her family threatened her with shunning (not the religious kind, just the snooty kind) were she to do so. As a result, Archer could not be with her, even were he willing to leave May Welland and put up with the resulting scandal.

The ending of the book was a bit odd and unsatisfying, the latter of which was likely intended. In the last chapter, you suddenly zoom ahead to the future to see what became of Archer. At first, this didn't make sense to me, but why became evident. Unfortunately, I thought the end was lame. Oh well.

All in all, I'm glad to have gotten through this book, as it was definitely on my list of things to read. I may even try reading the physical book at some point, since I already owned a copy before I was given the audiobook. At any rate, I would rate this far better than the only other Frome novel I have read, Ethan Frome. This may be her most optimistic famous novel, as I believe The House of Mirth is anything but mirthful.more
I wish I could give this 3.5 stars because I definitely liked it more than 3 stars, but not enough to give it 4.

The book is relatively predictable, plotwise. You can kind of tell from the beginning what is going to unfold, but at the same time you keep reading to see what happens next.

I had kind of a love/hate relationship with this book because I loved the potential scandal, but I have such a strong dislike toward adultery. Like such a strong dislike that I ended up kind of liking May the best. I'm pretty sure that isn't what is supposed to happen.more
The Age of Innocence speaks to the struggle involved in contemplating or actually escaping the family and culture one's born into. It is also an exquisite examination of human emotions and motivations. It's also entertaining.more
The Age of Innocence speaks to the struggle involved in contemplating or actually escaping the family and culture one's born into. It is also an exquisite examination of human emotions and motivations. It's also entertaining.more
In this novel of society and manners, Edith Wharton has sculpted a masterpiece of late 19th C. New York City mores so good that Jane Austen must step aside.Ultimately, within the rich comforts of the smug Social Register set there is no indulgence for an independently operating female, especially a "foreign" one, even if she's family.Newland Archer, engaged then married to the embodiment of NYC perfection in young women, May Wellend, is the starch stiff representative of the best young man NYC can produce until Ellen Olenska, his bride's cousin and herself a woman married but separated from her European husband, arrives.What ensues is a sustained waltz of suppressed emotions within and between Newland and Ellen that are buried under the weight of their conventionality, in his case; moral compunctions, in hers; and the manipulative pressures of their kin and friends determined to maintain the glass smooth surface of appearances against their ambitions to upset the status quo. Everyone's efforts to protect others from the truth and probably harm, to preserve their individual and collective innocence, devolves ironically into an age of conspiracy.Faithful in his body to his wife, Newland divorces himself from her emotionally and spends his "real" life sequestered among his books and memories inside his library. Faithful to her principles, Ellen eventually divorces herself from Newland's presence when she returns to Europe, unable to sustain an existence among those who initially embrace her then subtly push her out of the "tribe." "The Age of Innocence" is a novel about marriage and society that tells us they both are devoted to traditions bent on restricting individuality and killing love. The action is entirely domestic, consisting of meetings in homes, at dinner parties, balls, operas, and stolen moments in carriages and aboard steamers. It is largely internal action that raises tension when the pair break small societal rules, yet are never quite able to sever the restraints that tie them to earlier commitments. The tension spirals upward only to collapse on itself as Newland is incapable of decision and Ellen is disinclined to make him choose.Wharton's novel is atmospheric, period perfect, and damning in the most polite and socially acceptable way. Put it on your Must Read List.more
In this novel of society and manners, Edith Wharton has sculpted a masterpiece of late 19th C. New York City mores so good that Jane Austen must step aside.Ultimately, within the rich comforts of the smug Social Register set there is no indulgence for an independently operating female, especially a "foreign" one, even if she's family.Newland Archer, engaged then married to the embodiment of NYC perfection in young women, May Wellend, is the starch stiff representative of the best young man NYC can produce until Ellen Olenska, his bride's cousin and herself a woman married but separated from her European husband, arrives.What ensues is a sustained waltz of suppressed emotions within and between Newland and Ellen that are buried under the weight of their conventionality, in his case; moral compunctions, in hers; and the manipulative pressures of their kin and friends determined to maintain the glass smooth surface of appearances against their ambitions to upset the status quo. Everyone's efforts to protect others from the truth and probably harm, to preserve their individual and collective innocence, devolves ironically into an age of conspiracy.Faithful in his body to his wife, Newland divorces himself from her emotionally and spends his "real" life sequestered among his books and memories inside his library. Faithful to her principles, Ellen eventually divorces herself from Newland's presence when she returns to Europe, unable to sustain an existence among those who initially embrace her then subtly push her out of the "tribe." "The Age of Innocence" is a novel about marriage and society that tells us they both are devoted to traditions bent on restricting individuality and killing love. The action is entirely domestic, consisting of meetings in homes, at dinner parties, balls, operas, and stolen moments in carriages and aboard steamers. It is largely internal action that raises tension when the pair break small societal rules, yet are never quite able to sever the restraints that tie them to earlier commitments. The tension spirals upward only to collapse on itself as Newland is incapable of decision and Ellen is disinclined to make him choose.Wharton's novel is atmospheric, period perfect, and damning in the most polite and socially acceptable way. Put it on your Must Read List.more
The Age of Innocence is the story of a young man from the upper class in New York at the end of the 1800s. He is engaged to the perfect girl, but then meets her intriguing cousin, who doesn't fit in with society. First the positives: the writing is really very good, as it the portrayal of society and its expectations in that time. As a reader I could really feel how stifling it could be. Then the main negative: I just didn't feel for these characters. I couldn't understand Newland's decisions and felt frustrated with him. So, although the book is obviously well written, I won't be picking it up for a reread.more
Edith Wharton's "The Age of Innocence" is very much akin to Jane Austen's books, only in that the setting is America. In a word: boring and predictable. I could find not discernible plot. This book is being donated!more
Edith Wharton's "The Age of Innocence" is very much akin to Jane Austen's books, only in that the setting is America. In a word: boring and predictable. I could find not discernible plot. This book is being donated!more
Newland Archer, one of Old New York society's crowned princes (so to speak) is overjoyed about his recent engagement to the perfect May Welland. She too has a perfect pedigree, is a pretty young rose just starting to come into bloom, is innocent and beyond reproach in every way, well trained to be the ideal dutiful wife. But when he gets better acquainted with May's spirited and independant-minded cousin Ellen Olenska, just recently returned from Europe and scandalizing all of New York with her revealing dresses and foreign way of speaking and behaving, Newland is at first shocked and then completely taken over by passionate love. So much so that he is in fact determined to drop May and marry the countess Olenska instead. What he forgets to take into account is that his desire to embrace a life of freedom and equality will not be tolerated by his peers. A wonderful look at New York's upper crust in the 1870s, whose lives revolve around being seen at the opera and inviting the right people to dinner parties. Wharton exposes a world she knew firsthand from the distance of the 1920s, and what she shows us is just how regulated life was among the elite in a New York which was cosmopolitan, but prided itself on it's rigid and old fashioned conventions. Because this is Wharton, we know this love story is not likely to end with a Happily Ever After, but along the way she touches on interesting themes and presents us with a fascinating cast of characters who may not be likeable, but don't lack for entertainment value. A story I will definitely revisit in future. This audiobook version was narrated to perfection by David Horovitch and is definitely recommended.more
Well, I read this for my book club reading. I guess since this is a classic etc. and so highly praised there must be something wrong with me because I found this book VERY boring! I did not like her style of writing where she had three or more things happening in every sentence and thankfully she let up on this style after the first couple of chapters and only back slid to it a couple of times further on in the story. Perhaps this was a favored writing style when this was written but I almost put the book down several times in the beginning (and also after on just from boredom). As it was, I read four other books while reading this just so that I would finish it. Again, the whole book was very boring for me.Classic or not, I would not recommend this book to any of my reading friends. I will be interested to see what feelings my book club fellows have towards this book this next Saturday.more
Well, I read this for my book club reading. I guess since this is a classic etc. and so highly praised there must be something wrong with me because I found this book VERY boring! I did not like her style of writing where she had three or more things happening in every sentence and thankfully she let up on this style after the first couple of chapters and only back slid to it a couple of times further on in the story. Perhaps this was a favored writing style when this was written but I almost put the book down several times in the beginning (and also after on just from boredom). As it was, I read four other books while reading this just so that I would finish it. Again, the whole book was very boring for me.Classic or not, I would not recommend this book to any of my reading friends. I will be interested to see what feelings my book club fellows have towards this book this next Saturday.more
I loved this book. It had the atmosphere of a Henry James novel mixed with the social critique of Jane Austen. It makes me want to run out and read Wharton's oeuvre (and I have a goodly number in my TBR, so that won't be a problem).Life of New York's idle rich in the 1870s, written by one of their own after WWI, when she has put that society in perspective. Young Newland Archer is engaged to marry the perfectly perfect--but boring--May Welland, when her cousin Ellen returns in semi-disgrace from Europe. Newland finds himself smitten, and oh, what to do? None of the characters are particularly likeable--but they sure live in an interesting world. Old New York is a foreign world to me, and I loved this peek behind it's heavy mahogany doors and layers of velvet drapery.Recommended for: The language and psychology isn't as tortuous as Henry James, and it's not quite as sharp as Jane Austen (and also not British), but if you like those authors, you'll like this too. It also reminded me a little of Anna Karenina, except much shorter. Age of Innocence won the Pulitzer in 1921, so I'm not the only one to love it.more
Set in the high New York society of the 1870s, The Age of Innocence is an interesting book about the role of the individual in society, a woman's place, and marriage. Wharton takes the reader to the world of Newland Archer, a newly engaged young man who battles with what society expects from him in his role as a gentleman and what he wants for himself. Despite his romantic notions of marrying May Welland, Archer is drawn to May's recently separated cousin, Ellen Orlenska who's most attractive quality is not her physical beauty, but the beauty of her mind, something the current Mrs. Archer, May, seems to lack. The timelessness of the novel, seems to be Newland's inner conflict between what others, or society, expects of him and what he truly wants for himself. Despite the fact that Archer seems to have inherited wealth and doesn't really work, he feels trapped by his social group's values and social mores. Throughout the novel, Wharton introduces us to minor characters with less social standing that Newland is envious of because they are not as constrained by tradition and expectations. One of the highlights of the novel is Wharton's use of humor to point out the hypocrisy of the social order, which most readers can view in their own everyday interactions. Anyone who has felt they needed to live up to certain expectations from family or social groups can relate to Newland's feelings. Wharton also gives the reader a glance into the culture of New York in the 1870s through her descriptions of setting and notable artists, writers, and businessmen of the era. The book takes place right before the United States entry into international politics, WW I and the stock market crash and is therefore instructional is how the United States had already begun to create its own identity of new wealth, evolving social orders, and a break from the dominance of European culture.I really enjoyed this book and will definitely read more of Wharton's works as I loved how she takes the reader on a journey with some surprising stops. I also loved her use of wit in showing the nonsensical and often hypocritical things we do in society for the sake of tradition.more
Set in the high New York society of the 1870s, The Age of Innocence is an interesting book about the role of the individual in society, a woman's place, and marriage. Wharton takes the reader to the world of Newland Archer, a newly engaged young man who battles with what society expects from him in his role as a gentleman and what he wants for himself. Despite his romantic notions of marrying May Welland, Archer is drawn to May's recently separated cousin, Ellen Orlenska who's most attractive quality is not her physical beauty, but the beauty of her mind, something the current Mrs. Archer, May, seems to lack. The timelessness of the novel, seems to be Newland's inner conflict between what others, or society, expects of him and what he truly wants for himself. Despite the fact that Archer seems to have inherited wealth and doesn't really work, he feels trapped by his social group's values and social mores. Throughout the novel, Wharton introduces us to minor characters with less social standing that Newland is envious of because they are not as constrained by tradition and expectations. One of the highlights of the novel is Wharton's use of humor to point out the hypocrisy of the social order, which most readers can view in their own everyday interactions. Anyone who has felt they needed to live up to certain expectations from family or social groups can relate to Newland's feelings. Wharton also gives the reader a glance into the culture of New York in the 1870s through her descriptions of setting and notable artists, writers, and businessmen of the era. The book takes place right before the United States entry into international politics, WW I and the stock market crash and is therefore instructional is how the United States had already begun to create its own identity of new wealth, evolving social orders, and a break from the dominance of European culture.I really enjoyed this book and will definitely read more of Wharton's works as I loved how she takes the reader on a journey with some surprising stops. I also loved her use of wit in showing the nonsensical and often hypocritical things we do in society for the sake of tradition.more
The Age of Innocence…….Edith Wharton…issued 1920….Perhaps this is a good book for linguists and students of a prior NY sociology. I did complete this book as a prerequisite to attending a history class. I did however appreciate the art of under-statement and evasive or elliptic conversational skills evident in this work. This book as a Pulitzer Prize winner however was to me a disappointment. I read on but found myself reluctant to get re-started; as a consequence, it took me four weeks to complete my reading of the 377 page book. The vocabulary, the plot and sentence construction are first rate. Perhaps by osmosis I gained an appreciation of the static society and the mores of the “Gilded Era”. Only time will tell. Maybe this is a better book for romanticists than for those wishing to gain an understanding of the broad sweep of a historic age of the 1870-90 eras.more
From my second reading of this book, I am more than ever impressed with Edith Wharton's insight into the inner-workings of old New York society and the characters who inhabit it. We have characters who embrace the Old Order and use all their power and wiles to maintain it. And then we have the characters who are questioning the status quo, dare to break free from restraints and almost but not quite achieve it.A very interesting conflict between old and new values occurs as we watch Archer's consuming passion for a married woman overtake his will to remain faithful to his wife and way of life. The way in which his wife ties Archer to her without ever articulating her knowledge of his love for Ellen is a revelation of Old Order manipulation. But on the other hand a marriage is saved and we find in an epilogue that Archer had a successful and fairly content life. Beautiful language and nuanced expression of feeling by a master of her art.more
At least my third time through this book but I enjoyed it the most this time and could understand the characters need to abide by the rules established by their "class" instead of mocking the rules. Well written, not laborious and interesting characters.more
At least my third time through this book but I enjoyed it the most this time and could understand the characters need to abide by the rules established by their "class" instead of mocking the rules. Well written, not laborious and interesting characters.more
An engaging and subtle book where we understand events from things not said, set in the repressive and stultifying atmosphere of New York high society and seen from the point of view of a man, Newland Archer, from the moment he is about to get engaged to the end of his life. Newland Archer is someone I would like to give a good shake.I like Wharton's style very much, but hesitated every time (five or six throughout the book) that she used the verb "to throne" - "she throned over the house". Unless it is an Americanism, I am sure this is franglais, a direct translation of the French verb "trôner".more
An engaging and subtle book where we understand events from things not said, set in the repressive and stultifying atmosphere of New York high society and seen from the point of view of a man, Newland Archer, from the moment he is about to get engaged to the end of his life. Newland Archer is someone I would like to give a good shake.I like Wharton's style very much, but hesitated every time (five or six throughout the book) that she used the verb "to throne" - "she throned over the house". Unless it is an Americanism, I am sure this is franglais, a direct translation of the French verb "trôner".more
An okay book. It was my first time reading anything by Edith Wharton. She has a beautiful way of writing, and it was a nice change to read about rich people for once. I understand it was a long time ago, but these people were a bit ridiculas in my opinion! If I were May, I'd be wondering why my fiance was sending another woman roses! I'll still try more of Wharton's work though.more
An okay book. It was my first time reading anything by Edith Wharton. She has a beautiful way of writing, and it was a nice change to read about rich people for once. I understand it was a long time ago, but these people were a bit ridiculas in my opinion! If I were May, I'd be wondering why my fiance was sending another woman roses! I'll still try more of Wharton's work though.more
Classic tale of unrequited love.more
Classic tale of unrequited love.more
Dislike for Madame Olenska, disdain for the foolishness of Archer Newland, and respect and admiration for May is what one feels through much of the book.more
Dislike for Madame Olenska, disdain for the foolishness of Archer Newland, and respect and admiration for May is what one feels through much of the book.more
This is one of only four or five books that has actually made me cry. Wharton’s writing also made me underline furiously (which is slightly more difficult on an e-reader, but necessary). "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."more
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Reviews

I found Laural Merlington's narration to be excellent, especially her voice of Ellen Olenska.

(listened to May 2013)more
Big characters lashing emotions big and small left and right while at the same time trying to keep very agreeable with the norms of a society busy with busying itself with... itself, mostly. Freedom and individual views are not the norm and are frowned upon, and "innocence" is more or less well-played, but certainly not what is really going on. The futility of the attempts to do as one really pleases teaches the misbehaving ones a lot about the society around them, and about themselves. Wharton plays her characters back and forth, especially the two main ones, until we do not fully understand their motivation. Are their emotions real and what are they? Their actions and reactions are not always easy to comprehend, but still they remain real, and very human-like: failing, lying and cheating. Strong forces and "values" of the society play with characters at will. No one is safe and no one seems to be able to trust his next of kin or friend. The end of innocence happens on many levels and Wharton is particularly skillful in playing with meanings, tones, ironies to show us just how lowly the society has fallen (or has always been).more
I came into this story with a lot of expectations. Basically, I expected it to be about the amorous affair between Newland Archer and Ellen Olenska, his wife's cousin. While it was about their love, it turned out not to be about adultery. Oh yeah, spoiler, sorry. I figure most people already know what this is about because they've seen the movie.

Actually, the movie, which I have not actually seen, is what gave me the wrong idea. The most famous image from the film is of Archer (Daniel Day Lewis) passionately kissing Madame Olenska's (Michelle Pfeiffer's) neck. Thus the assumption that they were getting busy. Anyway, false. Turns out the book is more of a slow-moving look at how society puts constraints on people such that they cannot be with the person they love.

Madame Olenska married a Russian man and turned out to be fabulously unhappy despite her resulting wealth. She ran away to New York, where she fell for her cousin's fiancee. Ellen hoped to obtain a divorce, but her family threatened her with shunning (not the religious kind, just the snooty kind) were she to do so. As a result, Archer could not be with her, even were he willing to leave May Welland and put up with the resulting scandal.

The ending of the book was a bit odd and unsatisfying, the latter of which was likely intended. In the last chapter, you suddenly zoom ahead to the future to see what became of Archer. At first, this didn't make sense to me, but why became evident. Unfortunately, I thought the end was lame. Oh well.

All in all, I'm glad to have gotten through this book, as it was definitely on my list of things to read. I may even try reading the physical book at some point, since I already owned a copy before I was given the audiobook. At any rate, I would rate this far better than the only other Frome novel I have read, Ethan Frome. This may be her most optimistic famous novel, as I believe The House of Mirth is anything but mirthful.more
I wish I could give this 3.5 stars because I definitely liked it more than 3 stars, but not enough to give it 4.

The book is relatively predictable, plotwise. You can kind of tell from the beginning what is going to unfold, but at the same time you keep reading to see what happens next.

I had kind of a love/hate relationship with this book because I loved the potential scandal, but I have such a strong dislike toward adultery. Like such a strong dislike that I ended up kind of liking May the best. I'm pretty sure that isn't what is supposed to happen.more
The Age of Innocence speaks to the struggle involved in contemplating or actually escaping the family and culture one's born into. It is also an exquisite examination of human emotions and motivations. It's also entertaining.more
The Age of Innocence speaks to the struggle involved in contemplating or actually escaping the family and culture one's born into. It is also an exquisite examination of human emotions and motivations. It's also entertaining.more
In this novel of society and manners, Edith Wharton has sculpted a masterpiece of late 19th C. New York City mores so good that Jane Austen must step aside.Ultimately, within the rich comforts of the smug Social Register set there is no indulgence for an independently operating female, especially a "foreign" one, even if she's family.Newland Archer, engaged then married to the embodiment of NYC perfection in young women, May Wellend, is the starch stiff representative of the best young man NYC can produce until Ellen Olenska, his bride's cousin and herself a woman married but separated from her European husband, arrives.What ensues is a sustained waltz of suppressed emotions within and between Newland and Ellen that are buried under the weight of their conventionality, in his case; moral compunctions, in hers; and the manipulative pressures of their kin and friends determined to maintain the glass smooth surface of appearances against their ambitions to upset the status quo. Everyone's efforts to protect others from the truth and probably harm, to preserve their individual and collective innocence, devolves ironically into an age of conspiracy.Faithful in his body to his wife, Newland divorces himself from her emotionally and spends his "real" life sequestered among his books and memories inside his library. Faithful to her principles, Ellen eventually divorces herself from Newland's presence when she returns to Europe, unable to sustain an existence among those who initially embrace her then subtly push her out of the "tribe." "The Age of Innocence" is a novel about marriage and society that tells us they both are devoted to traditions bent on restricting individuality and killing love. The action is entirely domestic, consisting of meetings in homes, at dinner parties, balls, operas, and stolen moments in carriages and aboard steamers. It is largely internal action that raises tension when the pair break small societal rules, yet are never quite able to sever the restraints that tie them to earlier commitments. The tension spirals upward only to collapse on itself as Newland is incapable of decision and Ellen is disinclined to make him choose.Wharton's novel is atmospheric, period perfect, and damning in the most polite and socially acceptable way. Put it on your Must Read List.more
In this novel of society and manners, Edith Wharton has sculpted a masterpiece of late 19th C. New York City mores so good that Jane Austen must step aside.Ultimately, within the rich comforts of the smug Social Register set there is no indulgence for an independently operating female, especially a "foreign" one, even if she's family.Newland Archer, engaged then married to the embodiment of NYC perfection in young women, May Wellend, is the starch stiff representative of the best young man NYC can produce until Ellen Olenska, his bride's cousin and herself a woman married but separated from her European husband, arrives.What ensues is a sustained waltz of suppressed emotions within and between Newland and Ellen that are buried under the weight of their conventionality, in his case; moral compunctions, in hers; and the manipulative pressures of their kin and friends determined to maintain the glass smooth surface of appearances against their ambitions to upset the status quo. Everyone's efforts to protect others from the truth and probably harm, to preserve their individual and collective innocence, devolves ironically into an age of conspiracy.Faithful in his body to his wife, Newland divorces himself from her emotionally and spends his "real" life sequestered among his books and memories inside his library. Faithful to her principles, Ellen eventually divorces herself from Newland's presence when she returns to Europe, unable to sustain an existence among those who initially embrace her then subtly push her out of the "tribe." "The Age of Innocence" is a novel about marriage and society that tells us they both are devoted to traditions bent on restricting individuality and killing love. The action is entirely domestic, consisting of meetings in homes, at dinner parties, balls, operas, and stolen moments in carriages and aboard steamers. It is largely internal action that raises tension when the pair break small societal rules, yet are never quite able to sever the restraints that tie them to earlier commitments. The tension spirals upward only to collapse on itself as Newland is incapable of decision and Ellen is disinclined to make him choose.Wharton's novel is atmospheric, period perfect, and damning in the most polite and socially acceptable way. Put it on your Must Read List.more
The Age of Innocence is the story of a young man from the upper class in New York at the end of the 1800s. He is engaged to the perfect girl, but then meets her intriguing cousin, who doesn't fit in with society. First the positives: the writing is really very good, as it the portrayal of society and its expectations in that time. As a reader I could really feel how stifling it could be. Then the main negative: I just didn't feel for these characters. I couldn't understand Newland's decisions and felt frustrated with him. So, although the book is obviously well written, I won't be picking it up for a reread.more
Edith Wharton's "The Age of Innocence" is very much akin to Jane Austen's books, only in that the setting is America. In a word: boring and predictable. I could find not discernible plot. This book is being donated!more
Edith Wharton's "The Age of Innocence" is very much akin to Jane Austen's books, only in that the setting is America. In a word: boring and predictable. I could find not discernible plot. This book is being donated!more
Newland Archer, one of Old New York society's crowned princes (so to speak) is overjoyed about his recent engagement to the perfect May Welland. She too has a perfect pedigree, is a pretty young rose just starting to come into bloom, is innocent and beyond reproach in every way, well trained to be the ideal dutiful wife. But when he gets better acquainted with May's spirited and independant-minded cousin Ellen Olenska, just recently returned from Europe and scandalizing all of New York with her revealing dresses and foreign way of speaking and behaving, Newland is at first shocked and then completely taken over by passionate love. So much so that he is in fact determined to drop May and marry the countess Olenska instead. What he forgets to take into account is that his desire to embrace a life of freedom and equality will not be tolerated by his peers. A wonderful look at New York's upper crust in the 1870s, whose lives revolve around being seen at the opera and inviting the right people to dinner parties. Wharton exposes a world she knew firsthand from the distance of the 1920s, and what she shows us is just how regulated life was among the elite in a New York which was cosmopolitan, but prided itself on it's rigid and old fashioned conventions. Because this is Wharton, we know this love story is not likely to end with a Happily Ever After, but along the way she touches on interesting themes and presents us with a fascinating cast of characters who may not be likeable, but don't lack for entertainment value. A story I will definitely revisit in future. This audiobook version was narrated to perfection by David Horovitch and is definitely recommended.more
Well, I read this for my book club reading. I guess since this is a classic etc. and so highly praised there must be something wrong with me because I found this book VERY boring! I did not like her style of writing where she had three or more things happening in every sentence and thankfully she let up on this style after the first couple of chapters and only back slid to it a couple of times further on in the story. Perhaps this was a favored writing style when this was written but I almost put the book down several times in the beginning (and also after on just from boredom). As it was, I read four other books while reading this just so that I would finish it. Again, the whole book was very boring for me.Classic or not, I would not recommend this book to any of my reading friends. I will be interested to see what feelings my book club fellows have towards this book this next Saturday.more
Well, I read this for my book club reading. I guess since this is a classic etc. and so highly praised there must be something wrong with me because I found this book VERY boring! I did not like her style of writing where she had three or more things happening in every sentence and thankfully she let up on this style after the first couple of chapters and only back slid to it a couple of times further on in the story. Perhaps this was a favored writing style when this was written but I almost put the book down several times in the beginning (and also after on just from boredom). As it was, I read four other books while reading this just so that I would finish it. Again, the whole book was very boring for me.Classic or not, I would not recommend this book to any of my reading friends. I will be interested to see what feelings my book club fellows have towards this book this next Saturday.more
I loved this book. It had the atmosphere of a Henry James novel mixed with the social critique of Jane Austen. It makes me want to run out and read Wharton's oeuvre (and I have a goodly number in my TBR, so that won't be a problem).Life of New York's idle rich in the 1870s, written by one of their own after WWI, when she has put that society in perspective. Young Newland Archer is engaged to marry the perfectly perfect--but boring--May Welland, when her cousin Ellen returns in semi-disgrace from Europe. Newland finds himself smitten, and oh, what to do? None of the characters are particularly likeable--but they sure live in an interesting world. Old New York is a foreign world to me, and I loved this peek behind it's heavy mahogany doors and layers of velvet drapery.Recommended for: The language and psychology isn't as tortuous as Henry James, and it's not quite as sharp as Jane Austen (and also not British), but if you like those authors, you'll like this too. It also reminded me a little of Anna Karenina, except much shorter. Age of Innocence won the Pulitzer in 1921, so I'm not the only one to love it.more
Set in the high New York society of the 1870s, The Age of Innocence is an interesting book about the role of the individual in society, a woman's place, and marriage. Wharton takes the reader to the world of Newland Archer, a newly engaged young man who battles with what society expects from him in his role as a gentleman and what he wants for himself. Despite his romantic notions of marrying May Welland, Archer is drawn to May's recently separated cousin, Ellen Orlenska who's most attractive quality is not her physical beauty, but the beauty of her mind, something the current Mrs. Archer, May, seems to lack. The timelessness of the novel, seems to be Newland's inner conflict between what others, or society, expects of him and what he truly wants for himself. Despite the fact that Archer seems to have inherited wealth and doesn't really work, he feels trapped by his social group's values and social mores. Throughout the novel, Wharton introduces us to minor characters with less social standing that Newland is envious of because they are not as constrained by tradition and expectations. One of the highlights of the novel is Wharton's use of humor to point out the hypocrisy of the social order, which most readers can view in their own everyday interactions. Anyone who has felt they needed to live up to certain expectations from family or social groups can relate to Newland's feelings. Wharton also gives the reader a glance into the culture of New York in the 1870s through her descriptions of setting and notable artists, writers, and businessmen of the era. The book takes place right before the United States entry into international politics, WW I and the stock market crash and is therefore instructional is how the United States had already begun to create its own identity of new wealth, evolving social orders, and a break from the dominance of European culture.I really enjoyed this book and will definitely read more of Wharton's works as I loved how she takes the reader on a journey with some surprising stops. I also loved her use of wit in showing the nonsensical and often hypocritical things we do in society for the sake of tradition.more
Set in the high New York society of the 1870s, The Age of Innocence is an interesting book about the role of the individual in society, a woman's place, and marriage. Wharton takes the reader to the world of Newland Archer, a newly engaged young man who battles with what society expects from him in his role as a gentleman and what he wants for himself. Despite his romantic notions of marrying May Welland, Archer is drawn to May's recently separated cousin, Ellen Orlenska who's most attractive quality is not her physical beauty, but the beauty of her mind, something the current Mrs. Archer, May, seems to lack. The timelessness of the novel, seems to be Newland's inner conflict between what others, or society, expects of him and what he truly wants for himself. Despite the fact that Archer seems to have inherited wealth and doesn't really work, he feels trapped by his social group's values and social mores. Throughout the novel, Wharton introduces us to minor characters with less social standing that Newland is envious of because they are not as constrained by tradition and expectations. One of the highlights of the novel is Wharton's use of humor to point out the hypocrisy of the social order, which most readers can view in their own everyday interactions. Anyone who has felt they needed to live up to certain expectations from family or social groups can relate to Newland's feelings. Wharton also gives the reader a glance into the culture of New York in the 1870s through her descriptions of setting and notable artists, writers, and businessmen of the era. The book takes place right before the United States entry into international politics, WW I and the stock market crash and is therefore instructional is how the United States had already begun to create its own identity of new wealth, evolving social orders, and a break from the dominance of European culture.I really enjoyed this book and will definitely read more of Wharton's works as I loved how she takes the reader on a journey with some surprising stops. I also loved her use of wit in showing the nonsensical and often hypocritical things we do in society for the sake of tradition.more
The Age of Innocence…….Edith Wharton…issued 1920….Perhaps this is a good book for linguists and students of a prior NY sociology. I did complete this book as a prerequisite to attending a history class. I did however appreciate the art of under-statement and evasive or elliptic conversational skills evident in this work. This book as a Pulitzer Prize winner however was to me a disappointment. I read on but found myself reluctant to get re-started; as a consequence, it took me four weeks to complete my reading of the 377 page book. The vocabulary, the plot and sentence construction are first rate. Perhaps by osmosis I gained an appreciation of the static society and the mores of the “Gilded Era”. Only time will tell. Maybe this is a better book for romanticists than for those wishing to gain an understanding of the broad sweep of a historic age of the 1870-90 eras.more
From my second reading of this book, I am more than ever impressed with Edith Wharton's insight into the inner-workings of old New York society and the characters who inhabit it. We have characters who embrace the Old Order and use all their power and wiles to maintain it. And then we have the characters who are questioning the status quo, dare to break free from restraints and almost but not quite achieve it.A very interesting conflict between old and new values occurs as we watch Archer's consuming passion for a married woman overtake his will to remain faithful to his wife and way of life. The way in which his wife ties Archer to her without ever articulating her knowledge of his love for Ellen is a revelation of Old Order manipulation. But on the other hand a marriage is saved and we find in an epilogue that Archer had a successful and fairly content life. Beautiful language and nuanced expression of feeling by a master of her art.more
At least my third time through this book but I enjoyed it the most this time and could understand the characters need to abide by the rules established by their "class" instead of mocking the rules. Well written, not laborious and interesting characters.more
At least my third time through this book but I enjoyed it the most this time and could understand the characters need to abide by the rules established by their "class" instead of mocking the rules. Well written, not laborious and interesting characters.more
An engaging and subtle book where we understand events from things not said, set in the repressive and stultifying atmosphere of New York high society and seen from the point of view of a man, Newland Archer, from the moment he is about to get engaged to the end of his life. Newland Archer is someone I would like to give a good shake.I like Wharton's style very much, but hesitated every time (five or six throughout the book) that she used the verb "to throne" - "she throned over the house". Unless it is an Americanism, I am sure this is franglais, a direct translation of the French verb "trôner".more
An engaging and subtle book where we understand events from things not said, set in the repressive and stultifying atmosphere of New York high society and seen from the point of view of a man, Newland Archer, from the moment he is about to get engaged to the end of his life. Newland Archer is someone I would like to give a good shake.I like Wharton's style very much, but hesitated every time (five or six throughout the book) that she used the verb "to throne" - "she throned over the house". Unless it is an Americanism, I am sure this is franglais, a direct translation of the French verb "trôner".more
An okay book. It was my first time reading anything by Edith Wharton. She has a beautiful way of writing, and it was a nice change to read about rich people for once. I understand it was a long time ago, but these people were a bit ridiculas in my opinion! If I were May, I'd be wondering why my fiance was sending another woman roses! I'll still try more of Wharton's work though.more
An okay book. It was my first time reading anything by Edith Wharton. She has a beautiful way of writing, and it was a nice change to read about rich people for once. I understand it was a long time ago, but these people were a bit ridiculas in my opinion! If I were May, I'd be wondering why my fiance was sending another woman roses! I'll still try more of Wharton's work though.more
Classic tale of unrequited love.more
Classic tale of unrequited love.more
Dislike for Madame Olenska, disdain for the foolishness of Archer Newland, and respect and admiration for May is what one feels through much of the book.more
Dislike for Madame Olenska, disdain for the foolishness of Archer Newland, and respect and admiration for May is what one feels through much of the book.more
This is one of only four or five books that has actually made me cry. Wharton’s writing also made me underline furiously (which is slightly more difficult on an e-reader, but necessary). "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."more
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