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The Reef

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The Reef

ratings:
4/5 (4 ratings)
Length:
363 pages
5 hours
Released:
Nov 15, 2016
ISBN:
9780735252486
Format:
Book

Description

A dark tale of jealousy, betrayal, and the inability to let go of the past.
 
When Anna Leath’s husband passes away, she finds herself reunited with George Darrow, a former love from before her marriage. But her frequent delaying of their reunion leads him into an affair with a young actress named Sophy. Eventually George and Anna come together, but their future is complicated by Anna’s stepson, who has fallen in love with a woman that his family disapproves of – Sophy. Who, as it turns out, has been hired as Anna’s governess.
 
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Released:
Nov 15, 2016
ISBN:
9780735252486
Format:
Book

About the author

Edith Wharton (1862-1937) was born into a distinguished New York family and was educated privately in the United States and abroad. Among her best-known work is Ethan Frome (1911), which is considered her greatest tragic story, The House of Mirth (1905), and The Age of Innocence (1920), for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

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Reviews

What people think about The Reef

4.0
4 ratings / 4 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    But Ross says THEY WERE ON A BREAK!
  • (3/5)
    Young diplomat George Darrow is on his way to meet Anna Leath, an old girlfriend who is now a widow with a young daughter and a grown stepson. When Anna abruptly postpones their rendezvous without explanation, Darrow concludes that she is no longer interested in him. A chance meeting with Sophy Viner leads to their brief affair. Unfortunately, the lives of Darrow, Anna, Sophy and Anna's stepson Owen become linked and the extremely discreet sexual relationship between Darrow and Sophy complicates their lives.This story might have been easier to take if it had been written as a romantic comedy, but instead it's a soap opera. Everyone in this book is so ernest and humorless and they just yammer on endlessly about their feelings. The women change their minds on every other page. Anna's jealousy and obsessive indecisiveness was particularly annoying. The book also had a ridiculous non-ending. As far as I know, Anna is still obsessing. This is not good Edith Wharton and if you have not read her before do not start here. These characters are tedious and the book lacks the social commentary that often adds an edge to her books. The narration by Kristen Underwood of the audiobook was ok, but she didn't do a very good job with the male voices.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed this. Definitely "old-school" by today's standards, it describes the consequences of taking affairs of the heart lightly. Wharton timing, pacing and tone are excellent!
  • (5/5)
    Anna Leath is an American living in France and recently widowed, with an adult stepson (Owen) and a young daughter (Effie). On a visit to London she meets up with George Darrow, rekindling a romance from many years before. George agrees to visit Anna at her country house Givré, but just as he is preparing to cross the Channel he receives a terse communication delaying the visit. He continues on to Paris anyway, befriending a young woman named Sophy and enjoying a couple of weeks in her company. When he finally visits Anna a few months later, he is surprised to find Sophy employed as Effie's governess. Having already professed his love and commitment to Anna, he decides to keep his dalliance with Sophy a secret.The novel revolves around the fragile nature of trust and intimacy, and social norms that inhibit expression. It's clear that George adores Anna:They dined late, and facing her across the table, with its low lights and flowers, he felt an extraordinary pleasure in seeing her again in evening dress, and in letting his eyes dwell on the proud shy set of her head, the way her dark hair clasped it, and the girlish thinness of her neck above the slight swell of her breast. His imagination was struck by the quality of reticence in her beauty. (p.127)Meanwhile he gave himself up once more to the joy of Anna's presence. They had not been alone together for two long days, and he had the lover's sense that he had forgotten, or at least underestimated, the strength of the spell she cast. Once more her eyes and her smile seemed to bound his world. He felt that her light would always move with him as the sunset moves before a ship at sea. (p. 220)Anna, too, is sure of her feelings, but completely unable to express them, expecting George to pick up on nonverbal cues and initiate all dialogue about their relationship. Even when Anna learns the truth about George and Sophy -- as the reader knows she will -- she is completely unable to work it out in an adult fashion. She wants to give George the benefit of the doubt and initially believes his explanations, but when they are apart, even for a few minutes, doubt sets in. Anna repeatedly shies away from confrontation, putting off the conversation that must take place for their relationship to continue.The reader knows Anna is capable of deep feeling and expression: early in the novel, she shows tremendous excitement when Owen returns from an afternoon away. It's frustrating to watch her mis-handle the one relationship that will bring lifelong happiness. Fortunately, the scenery is idyllic. Edith Wharton brings France, her adopted country, to life, taking the reader up and down Paris streets, and on long walks through country chateau gardens. She breaks the emotional tension with well-placed humor. For example, consider this description of Adelaide Painter, a friend of Anna's mother-in-law:After living, as he had, as they all had, for the last few days, in an atmosphere perpetually tremulous with echoes and implications, it was restful and fortifying merely to walk into the big blank area of Miss Painter's mind, so vacuous for all its accumulated items, so echoless for all its vacuity. (p. 212)Reading The Reef, it was easy to get frustrated with Anna, waffling over her commitment to George. And I was fairly sympathetic to George: he was no saint, but his fling with Sophy occurred before he'd reunited with Anna, and at a point where he thought she had rejected him. And while I longed for Anna to be stronger and more assertive, her inhibitions were not unfamiliar to me. The Reef is an excellent period piece in its scenery, characterizations, and portrayal of relationships between men and women.