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Reviews: Edith Wharton: 3 Books: The 1920 Club novel, a 2nd novel, & letters

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My Interest

I have had this book on my TBR since…forever. The 1920 Club hosted by Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings finally gave me the push I needed to read it. I must say that happily, my first escape into the world of Edith Wharton’s creating will not be my last! I liked Age of Innocence for exactly the same reason people love Jane Austen: The comedy of the manners, albeit this time in old New York. And because, well, I hate to say it, but honestly? She’s so very right. Archery is past it’s prime. Lawn tennis is much more exciting! Well, she would know–her Wikipedia entry calls her “a taste-maker of her time” meaning today she’d be an influencer on social media and maybe a brand ambassador for Worth. See?? The more things change the more they stay the same.

The Story

(About opera)

…since an unalterable and unquestioned law of the musical world required that the German text of French operas sung by Swedish artists should be translated into Italian for the clearer understanding of English-speaking audiences.

(About a member of the main social set)

No one in the …set could understand why [she] had submitted so tamely to the eccentricities of a husband who filled the house with long-haired men and short-haired women…..

Like all beautiful BBC Costume Dramas (I suppose this was once one?) this book includes everything beautiful: gowns by Worth, opera from private boxes with supper at the interval, gorgeous horses drawing carriages with matched sets of footman on the back, glimmering jewels, gorgeous teenage (in today’s terms) girls being swarmed about by men in boiled shirt-fronts and spectacular cuff links. Swoony is the word.

Society lawyer Newland Archer is to marry the very eligible May Wellend when her wayward cousin Ellen appears having left her titled husband (gasp). You guessed it–she’s everything May isn’t and Archer starts thinking with the wrong head [vulgarity–sorry]. You get the drift. The plot really doesn’t matter here, does it? It’s the telling. Edith Wharton didn’t become the first woman to win a Pulitzer for making this a bad book. It’s excellent–and what’s more, it’s excellent fun.

My Verdict

4.5

The .5 extra was for Newland having the balls to stand up to a partner in his law firm!

Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

The Novel and The Letters

 

Age of Desire by Jennie Fields

Dear Governess: The Letters of Edith Wharton to Anna Bahlmann

While listening to Age of Innocence, I remembered buying these two books on Wharton. I decided I had to read them before posting my 1920 Club review. That turned out to be a very tall order for the time frame, but well worth the reading. I must confess I have not read cover-to-cover in the letters but have enjoyed many of them.

 

The Novel

“Edith was raised to be a lady, not a woman.” (Age of Desire, p. 7)

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Age of Desire by Jennie Fields. I found this at Dollar Tree!

I have gotten sidetracked on this so I will be reviewing it later.

 

The Letters

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One of the great losses of the late 20th and 21st centuries is the death of letter writing. Historians have already lost out on a wealth of information gone with the death of computer storage mechanisms robbing them of access to early electronic documents of all sorts. The loss of archives of letters, diaries, and paper memorabilia, is a severe blow. I love reading both letters and diaries. Edith’s letters to her former governess, Anna Bahlmann show so much more of her and her inner life than any biographer can hope to tell.

My Dear Governess: The Letters of Edith Wharton to Anna Bahlmann

 

 

 

Watch Edith Wharton: The Sense Of Harmony on Amazon Prime.

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4 thoughts on “Reviews: Edith Wharton: 3 Books: The 1920 Club novel, a 2nd novel, & letters

  1. I have not read any of these — from your review, I thought I’d read “The Age of Innocence,” but looking at Goodreads I see that it was “The House of Mirth” instead. They sound very similar! “Ethan Frome” by her is one of my all-time favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

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