Friday, July 23, 2010

Page Turners: The House of Mirth (1905)

For the past year I've been working my way up Modern Library's list of 100 Best Novels. It's been a great way to catch up on of the classics I've always wanted to read, but never quite got around to. I thought it would be fun to share my experience with you by offering a smidgen of a review in a column I'll call Page Turners. Below you'll discover my first installment. Thanks for stopping by! 

Hi Bloggy Friends,

I recently finished reading The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, a novel about the inner-workings of high society life in turn-of-the century New York. In it she brings to life a time when grown women received an allowance (if they were lucky) and the closest thing to email was a calling card left at the door with someone's maid. 

The protagonist, Lily Bart, reminds me of a slightly modernized, extremely Yankee-fied Scarlett O'Hara. She's a sympathetic, yet calculated individual who knows how to work a crowd. But unlike her uppity friends, she can't hold onto a penny to save her life. Instead, she flits from upstate summer home to Fifth Avenue, utilizing only her God-given good looks and unflappable charm to ride the coattails of New York's powerful and privileged.

Edith Wharton
Her main goal? To procure everlasting security and position in the generous embrace of an affluent husband. At first it seems indubitable that things will go her way, but as the story twists and turns she makes unwise decisions, finding herself in the midst of a sultry scandal that just may ruin her forever.

To me, Wharton's grandiose use of language causes the text to lull in spots. Perhaps it's my attention span, but when she gets too wordy I tend to drift. I've found this show of vocabulary is common among writers of that time period. The story is more than redeemed, however, in her riveting use of dialogue. There were moments of conversation that transported me to the dimly lit parlors and stately gardens where much of the story takes place. I was on the edge of my pillow as Lily charmed her way around one intensely uncomfortable situation to the next. Her allure explodes from the text. Just like many of the men she encounters, you'll end up falling head over heels in love.

I recommended this book if you enjoyed A Room with a View by E.M. Forster or The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington.

I do not recommend this book if you despise looking up words in the dictionary as you read or if you prefer fairy tale endings...

Have a great night. 


Thanks for stopping by to read my first review. Last night I began reading Main Street by Sinclair Lewis, so come back in a few several weeks to see my thoughts on that. Oh, and if you've read or seen something recently and have a desire to share with the world, feel free to send me a review. I'll post it on my blog and blast it on Facebook and Twitter. It'll be a nice way to bond with other readers and to compile a hefty list for the literarily curious to stop by and read. You can email me at Thanks!

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