What’s it all about?:
Set in turn-of-the-century New York, Edith Wharton’s classic novel The Age of Innocence reveals a society governed by the dictates of taste and form, manners and morals, and intricate social ceremonies. Newland Archer, soon to marry the lovely May Welland, is a man torn between his respect for tradition and family and his attraction to May’s strongly independent cousin, the Countess Ellen Olenska. Plagued by the desire to live in a world where two people can love each other free from condemnation and judgment by the group, Newland views the artful delicacy of the world he lives in as a comforting security one moment, and at another, as an oppressive fiction masking true human nature. The Age of Innocence is at once a richly drawn portrait of the elegant lifestyles, luxurious brownstones, and fascinating culture of bygone New York society and a compelling look at the conflict between human passions and the social tribe that tries to control them.
What did I think?:
I was very unsure when I first started reading this book, but fifty pages in something clicked and I started to really enjoy it. To be frank, the New York society of that time was as dull as dishwater and their endless gossiping and rules of society is not exactly stimulating reading. But…stick with it. This is what Wharton wants you to think, in my humble opinion.
I felt like I went on the journey of realisation with Newland Archer in that his life is full of hypocrisy and boredom. Enter Countess Olenska who makes Archer realise there is more to life then what type of dress his wife should be wearing. This is a beautifully executed novel that really changed my views on it from slightly ambivalent to cheering hooray! (Or should that be hurrah?!)
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5)