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Old New York Paperback – March 1, 1995

4.5 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

First published in 1924, Wharton's collection of four short novels reveals the customs and social orders of mid-19th-century New York.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up-Four novellas by Edith Wharton: "False Dawn," "The Spark," "The Old Maid," and "New Year's Day."
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (March 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0020383142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0020383147
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This collection of 4 novellas is not one of Edith Wharton's best or best known books; however, OLD NEW YORK is a wonderful and varied good read. The best known of these stories is probably the OLD MAID, which was made into a 1939 movie starring Bette Davis. It chronicles the complex relationsip between cousins who join together to hide the origins of an orphan. I also really enjoyed NEW YEAR'S DAY, which tells of a young adulturous woman and the ramificantions her actions have on her entire life. The story reminded me a bit of THE AGE OF INNOCENCE in its heroine's sacrificing her life for the sake of appearances. THE SPARK is also terrific, but a bit stagey. It tells of a young man's fascination with an older successful man who is seen as a bit silly by others. Unfortunately, the book jacket (included on this site also) gives away a bit too much. The other story, FALSE DAWN, I found to be too predictable, and the writing was rather stilted. FALSE DAWN is the first story in this collection; if you find yourself not enjoying this story, stick with the book...it gets better!
Overall, this collection is likely to please fans of Edith Wharton and people who enjoy American literature from the early 20th century. Wharton is an superb author of the finest caliber, and I look forward to reading more of her books.
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Format: Paperback
There is no doubt about it. Edith Warthon -- the stunning creator of amazing novels like The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth -- had outdone herself with Old New York. The four novellas in Old New York have similar themes: infidelity, jealousy and the always intriguing class system. I love all the stories, but I particularly like "New Year's Day," which focuses on an adulterous woman. I marvel at the fact that this story had probably caused some controversy in those times. I also enjoyed "False Down" and "The Old Maid." I know that this particular book is not as popular as -- oh, I don't know -- The Age of Innocence, but the timeless quality in the stories is definitely memorable. If you haven't given this wonderful book a whirl, please do!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My review is of the Kindle edition, which worked fine. The Table of contents entries are linked to the first page of each novella so you can easily navigate.

If you enjoy Edith Wharton's other books you will like this collection. Each novella is set in a different decade from the 1840's to the 1870's. You can expect well-drawn characters and Wharton's memorable descriptive turns of phrase.

"False Dawn: The 'Forties" and "The Spark: The 'Sixties" are told more from a male perspective, and possibly for that reason are less effective. "The Old Maid: The 'Fifties" is more concerned with female characters, and to me is reminiscent of Wharton's short story "Roman Fever". I thought that "New Years Day: The 'Seventies" was the best of the group. In the middle it has the feel of "House of Mirth". And the ending is unexpected.

"False Dawn" and "The Spark" concern the artistic blindness of the rich and powerful. They both treat underestimated and unappreciated historical literary or artistic figures. "The Old Maid" and "New Years Day" both cover the familiar Wharton subject of societal censure.

I rate "Old New York" somewhere between the group "House of Mirth", "Age of Innocence", "Ethan Frome" and the group "The Reef", "Twilight Sleep", "Summer". This is, of course, a matter of taste. If you like good, classic American literature, you can't go wrong with this one.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We enjoyed this book , especially the story "The Old Maid". We are fans of Editith Wharton and this did not disappoint.
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Format: Paperback
Wharton rarely disappoints. This is another anthology of novellas dedicated to the themes familiar to all Wharton readers - stifling constraints of Gilded Age New York society, utter dependence of women, etc.

The collection contains 4 stories, each set in a different decade of the 19th century. "False Dawn" deals with the consequences of being different, even in a trite matter of preference in art. "The Old Maid" is an interesting account of an aftermath of an illicit affair where two women are drawn into a very complex relationship raising an illegitimate child. "The Spark" explores (I think) an influence of a chance meeting on a man's character. "New Year's Day" is a story of a woman engaged in adultery whose reasons for being unfaithful are not quite what you expect them to be.

Unlike another anthology I recently read ("Roman Fever and Other Stories") this book is very uneven. "The Old Maid" and "New Year's Day" are the best, "False Dawn" a little underwhelming, but still good, and "Spark" is a definite disappointment (too unresolved and muddled). But nevertheless, Wharton, as always, delivers.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What can be written about Edith Wharton's uniquely American point of view of a New York that has long since disappeared that hasn't already been elaborated on. She is by far my favorite author and any bibliophile will truly benefit from incorporating Wharton into their personal libraries. She captures a woman's voice like few authors have, describing it in brilliant and accurate terms. I wish I had Wharton's ease with descriptive language to convey how fortunate we are to have such literature at our disposal. Do yourself a favor and read anything Wharton.
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