Sunday, January 20, 2013

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Well, I struggled with this but I did finally finish it. It's a shame, really, because I loved Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome but The House of Mirth was just too much social jockeying of the Desperate Housewives and Bachelorette kind. Ugh. Not that I've ever really watched those shows, though . . . just my armchair impression.


Wharton never fails to produce some wonderful writing and some pretty astute social observations, but it's a slog to get through *who* all the characters are and why they're acting this or that way. I didn't really care much for any of them so it was hard to pick up any kind of reading momentum. I won't give up on Wharton yet, though. I still have Summer and The Reef on my TBR shelf and I'm crossing fingers that they will be more accessible.

A black comedy of manners about vast wealth and a woman who can define herself only through the perceptions of others.
The beautiful Lily Bart lives among the nouveaux riches of New York City - people whose millions were made in railroads, shipping, land speculations, and banking. In this morally and aesthetically bankrupt world, Lily, age twenty-nine, seeks a husband who can satisfy her cravings for endless admiration and all the trappings of wealth. Her quest comes to a scandalous end when she is accused of being the mistress of a wealthy man. Exiled from her familiar world of artificial conventions, Lily finds life impossible. (back cover)


As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

Awww, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it more. I remember liking Lily Bart quite a bit, actually. But I read it back in ancient times, pre-reality TV, so now you're comment about the social jockeying both made me laugh and made me curious to read the book again!

Daisy said...

Good for you for finishing it! It doesn't sound like one I'd care for much, but I appreciate hearing your review.

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I dislike social jockeying in real life but don't mind reading about it, so I might like this one. It's a shame it didn't work out for you, though.

Trish said...

Crowe - Huh. I wonder if it's because of the prevalence of those kinds of shows and my dislike of them that clouded my impression of this book. Because, normally, I quite enjoy a good social commentary tale, but this one just irked me for some reason. I didn't connect and I don't know why. I wonder if I had read it twenty years ago I might have enjoyed it more...?

Daisy - Thanks! Yes, not all was lost. I did enjoy it enough on some level to finish it.

Sam - I'd rather read about it than live it too. I think maybe I just wasn't in the mood for even that this time around.