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House Of Mirth

4.3 out of 5 stars 469 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1419124686
ISBN-10: 1419124684
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Edith Wharton was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, known for such classics as The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome, and The Age of Innocence, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921. A member of the New York elite, Wharton drew on her experiences as part of society to critique its inner workings and the conflict between personal desires and societal norms. Wharton died in 1937, leaving behind a rich literary legacy.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, LLC (June 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419124684
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419124686
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (469 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,105,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Charles Slovenski on November 30, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I stumbled upon a review of the recent film of THE HOUSE OF MIRTH in the TLS and, in order to have the novel firmly fixed in my mind (that is, before the lush, seductive images of film forever eradicated Wharton's novel from me) I dragged my copy off the shelf for a re-read. It had been 16 years since I last read of Lily Bart and her life, and I didn't realize how much I had missed her. For me, this is one of the great reading experiences, one of a handful that make reading a book the deeply moving and human exchange that it is. Despite the distance of wealth, property, time and manners, Wharton manages to make Lily's world and life palpable to anyone who will listen. The clash of money, morals, personality and circumstance is infinitely developed and played out in front of a never fading natural world. Once again, I was deeply moved by Lily Bart and at the end, felt I had lost someone myself.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Edith Wharton's "The House Of Mirth" is a sad, but brilliant commentary on the closed, repressive society of the rich, upper class, New York nobility, at the dawn of the 20th century. It is also the story of the downfall of one woman, who attempts to live by her own rules, with no sponsor and no money of her own. Her parents are dead and she lives with relatives.
Lily Bart is one of society's most eligible women, at the height of her powers, when the novel opens. Though she has little money, she has family connections, good breeding and the hope of coming into an inheritance. Beautiful and very charming, Lily has been brought up to be an ornament, as were most women of her class at that time. She is a gilded bird with a noble heart, but clearly she is not aware of the restrictions of her cage. Part of Lily's tragedy is that she does have character, spirit, and a conscience. However, she does not know how to align these attributes, with her ornamental avocation, and her ambitions to marry a wealthy man of good birth.
As expected, Lily is popular with both bachelors and married men. Most of the bachelors propose marriage at on time or another. The only man she has real affection for is her dear friend, Lawrence Seldon, a barrister, whose lack of income makes him entirely unsuitable as a husband. Lily had developed a gambling habit to support her lifestyle, and supplement her allowance. An unfortunate losing streak has put her into debt. In her naivete, she forms an unsavory business alliance with a married man. Later, she is unjustly accused of having an affair with him and their business arrangement also come to light.
Her family cuts her off without a penny.
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Format: Paperback
Published in 1905, The House of Mirth offers a blistering social commentary on the lifestyles and behavior of super-rich society. Having grown up in this society, Wharton evaluates it here as an insider, and her trenchant observations give this early novel a liveliness and verisimilitude not characteristic of "aristocratic" novels written by outsiders. Set at a time in which the old, moneyed aristocracy was being forced to admit newcomers who had made their recent fortunes through industry, the novel shows moneyed society in flux, the old guard ensuring their exclusivity against parvenus who are not the "right type," at the same time that their sons and daughters were often securing large fortunes through marriage into some of these new families.

Lily Bart, a beautiful young woman of good family whose father lost everything when she was only nineteen, is left dependent on wealthy relatives in this society until she can charm a financially secure suitor into marriage. At age twenty-nine, she is no longer a debutante, and the pressure is mounting for her to marry, though she lacks the unlimited financial resources of social rivals. Still, her wit and charm make her a delightful companion, and she is never at a loss for suitors. Intelligent enough to want a real marriage and not just a merger between families, she has resisted making a commitment to date, though the clock is ticking.

As Lily tries to negotiate a good marriage and future for herself, she is aware that the competition is fierce. Women "friends" pounce on the latest gossip and spread rumors to discredit rivals, and Lily's reputation is tainted with hints of impropriety. Her opportunities for a good marriage begin to dwindle, and when her aunt, Mrs.
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Format: Paperback
I have read this book many times and it is still one of my favorites. I read the reviews, of which some people have no "pity" for Lily - she doesn't want it! While Lily has many chances to take care of herself financially, she is unwilling to let go of her moral character. Quite a position for one who requires (or so she believes) the approval and financial support of society! Obviously those who pan this book as "that was the way it was then" are not old enough to realize that to some degree, that is the way it is now. You are still judged socially by your occupation, home, financial wealth, etc. Lily is a wonderful heroine. Although you want to talk to her and explain to her the other choices, knowing Lily as you come to, you understand her choice. Very wonderful book. I will not see the movie, because I have my own mental images of Lily, Selden and the gang, which I do not want disturbed.
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