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The Age of Innocence
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Top Customer Reviews
That is the Gilded Age, and nobody knew its hypocrises better than Edith Wharton.... and nobody portrayed them as well. "The Age of Innocence" is a trip back in time to the stuffy upper crust of "old New York," taking us through one respectable man's hopeless love affair with a beautiful woman -- and the life he isn't brave enough to have.
Newland Archer, of a wealthy old New York family, has become engaged to pretty, naive May Welland. But as he tries to get their wedding date moved up, he becomes acquainted with May's exotic cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska, who has returned home after dumping her cheating husband. At first, the two are just friends, but Newland becomes more and more entranced by the Countess' easy, free-spirited European charm.
After Newland marries May, the attraction to the mysterious Countess and her free, unconventional life becomes even stronger. He starts to rebel in little ways, but he's still mired in a 100% conventional marriage, job and life. Will he become an outcast and go away with the beautiful countess, or will he stick with May and the safe, dull life that he has condemned in others?
There's nothing too scandalous about "Age of Innocence" in a time when starlets acquire and discard boyfriends and husbands like old pantyhose -- it probably wasn't in the 1920s when it was first published. But then, this isn't a book about sexiness and steam -- it's part bittersweet romance, part social satire, and a look at what happens when human beings lose all spontaneity and passion.Read more ›
This book must be understood not simply as art, but as a psychological statement, namely that sexuality exists within each of us from infancy on and parents and society deny that at their own risk.
When I was the age of the girls in this book there was no one with the courage to come forward and openly depict the flowering of female sexuality. I lived with confusion and shame about my body and my desires, hurtful feelings that lasted until I was well into my adulthood.
I came across this book in a store one day while looking for something else. I spotted the title and I vaguely remembered a news story about some people wanting to ban it, so I thought I would look at it out of curiosity. The images in it were so beautiful I almost started to cry right there, it was as though I found vindication for the very core of my being.
After taking it home, I decided to share it with my nine-year old daughter with whom I had just recently had "The Talk". It was wonderful being able to show her how her body would change and how she would be beautiful even as she changed from a girl into a woman. It is true there are already books out there that are supposed to address the issue, but so often they take a clinical approach that is scary in its own right.Read more ›
When Newland is reintroduced to May's cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska, who has left her husband in Europe and now wants a divorce, he finds himself utterly captivated by her independence and her willingness to risk all, socially, by flouting convention. Both Ellen and Newland are products of their upbringing and their culture, however, and they resist their feelings because of their separate social obligations. Various meetings between them suggest that their feelings are far stronger than what is obvious on the surface, and the question of whether they will finally state the obvious or act on their feelings constitutes the plot.
Wharton creates an exceptionally realistic picture of New York in the post-Civil War era, a time in which aristocrats of inherited wealth found themselves competing socially with parvenus. Her ability to show the conflict between a person's need for social acceptance and the desire for personal freedom is striking.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A mesmerizing consideration of human desire and behavior in the late 1800's that is not altogether off-course today. I found it spellbinding, moving, and immensely enjoyable.Published 5 days ago by Theo Rising
Although I paid for this book, only the title page downloaded. No matter what I did, there were no pages to read. I would like to get my money back.Published 18 days ago by Gayle
A triumph! There are some works, in the affairs of human nature, that are simply destined to be of the highest classic order. This is one of them. Read morePublished 25 days ago by lidz
The Age of Innocence is a beautiful story, beautifully told by a master craftsman.Published 1 month ago by Kaceyok
4.5 stars. This is a classic tale to be read slowly--sipped rather than gulped. I lingered over the structure of the sentences. Read morePublished 1 month ago by ReaderK
For me, it was a little hard to read; I had to reread some lines, but I really enjoyed it. Disappointed in the ending; guess I am more of a romantic that I thought. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mary A. Newman