Chosen by Jo
An upper-class couple’s marriage is threatened by the arrival of the bride’s cousin. The Age Of Innocence won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921 making Edith Wharton the first woman to receive the prize.
❍ “The Age Of Innocence was a dense slow read – there are many references I didn’t understand. They were explained at the back of the book, but I find constantly flipping to the back laborious and a stilted way to read. However, I did enjoy the story. It has a tragic love story at its core with the friction of New York’s societies’ ideals being challenged for Newland Archer and other characters by Ellen Olenska. The way Wharton mocks these ideals is darkly humourous, her writing is beautifully precise and this book is thick with quotable quotes, e.g. (Society people) “dreaded scandal more than disease”, and from Ellen “the real loneliness is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretend” – keeping me smiling throughout. The characters are cleverly portrayed with profound details emerging near the fabulous ending. It is easy to see why this book rates so highly with many people. Definitely one of the greats.” – Jo
❍ “An interesting commentary on high society in New York around the turn of the century, about a man’s hopeless love affair with a beautiful women and the life he isn’t brave enough to have. A beautifully written book that felt very slow to me at times, that is possibly to be expected with this type of novel and it maybe is a good reflection of how it felt to live within the social constraints of ‘Old New York’ at the time.” – Becks
❍ “An evenly paced book which is thick with detail and analysis, as, it seems, Manhattan society was pre-war. The pretence of innocence is spread among the characters, and I enjoyed discovering who was innocent and who was covertly in control behind their angelic facade. A book of social tragedy where sympathy is elicited for all the characters, all of whom have the best intentions even if they do succumb to temptation occasionally!” – Rachel