Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. (1905)

Edith Wharton is one of my favorite writers.  Her Age of Innocence was one of my first blogging subjects in September of 2009.  I later read and posted on her novella, Ethan Frome and a few of her short stories. (There is background information on her in my prior posts.)

I really enjoyed reading The House of Mirth inspite of it being a very sad and depressing book.  The star of the book is Lilly Bart, a beautiful young woman whose parents recently died.  She is left with a small income but lives largely from the  largess of a very wealthy aunt.  Much of the plot action centers on her matrimonial prospects and her various suiters.  She cannot maintain her high society status without  a wealthy husband but she cannot really find a man she wants to marry among her circle. 

There are great observations of the role of money in New York City society, at the opening of the 20th century.   The character of Lilly Bart is very finely articulated.  Maybe I did not read the novel carefully enough but I found the male characters less well done.  The prose is throughout exquiste.  

I guess I would suggest first read Age of Innocence then The House of Mirth.

What Wharton book should I next read?

Mel u


Delia (Postcards from Asia) said...

Hi Mel,
I loved both The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth, although I found the latter much darker. Lilly was an interesting character, however I felt she was not suited for the life of intrigue and she didn't have the shrewdness necessary to "catch a husband", like the times dictated.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Mel, I read this book a couple of years ago and loved it. The character of Lily Bart is well-drawn although I couldn't find myself sympathising with her and found her rather shallow at times.

Mel u said...

Prashant, Lilly is a very interesting character, for sure, I also did not much sympathize with her

Delia- at times it almost seemed she did not really want a husband