Sunday, September 18, 2011

Review: Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

The Age of InnocenceThe Age of Innocence
Author: Edith Wharton
From: FREE online eBook!
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Newland and May are about engaged to be married just as they should be in this perfect world of the "old rich" in New York City in the 1870s. They are a perfect match between perfect families, who live perfect lives just as they are expected to. Except that Wharton immediately throws a wrench into the whole perfectness with the entrance of Countess Olenska. The Countess has left her husband (SCANDAL) and has decided to come "home" to NYC where all will be perfect of course. NOT! Remember SCANDAL since of course a married woman who has left her deliciously rich european husband has GOT to be a severe multiple adulteress! How on earth is she going to fit back into the perfect society she left? Will they shun her? Will she be accepted? Will this ruin Newland and May's engagement? What about their marriage?

Ok, this won Edith Wharton the Pulitzer Prize in 1921! I get it, it's like Romeo & Juliet but instead of double suicides because they can't be together we get their perfectly lined up lives which they refuse to deviate from! Can you tell I wasn't a fan? I wasn't! Blick! I have a VERY hard time understanding not taking what you want when you can and living for yourself so that you are happy. I'm not saying that you shouldn't think about others and their feelings, just that "Are you kidding me!!" they were both in the perfect spot to either not marry the person they don't love or divorce a hideous man so they could be together. On top of which "Are you kidding me!!" they were both RICH!! In my world, if you have money...you choose your own life. You don't do what others expect just because they expect it.

On the other hand...this is a completely gorgeous, classic romance with beautiful language from the past and I completely understand how it was so perfect at the time it was written. I also understand that for her to write this at the time she did when she was in the family and social circle that she was in was one of the bravest things EVER! YOU GO GIRL! So if you'd like to know the whole answer I would call it "A beautiful classic which perfectly describes high society in NYC in the late 1800s, but just not my cup of tea." It made me mad! Try it, maybe it's your cup of tea!  Great classic read for a book club (which is who I read this with!)

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