The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Review by Lauren
Copy: I bought this for school
Review: I suppose because this is an older book, I cannot find an official summary that doesn't give away the entire plot. However, I will try and briefly explain what The Age of Innocence is about. The book mostly follows the point of view of Newland Archer, who is engaged to be married to May Welland. However, May's cousin, Countess Olenska (or Ellen) is back in town from living in Europe for many years. She has left her husband, which is a bit of a scandal for old New York society. Ellen does not realize this, though, and believes everyone to be warmly welcoming her back.
As Archer gets to know Ellen, he soon finds himself falling for her, but he's grown up in this society and knows it would not be proper to leave May. At the same time, he discourages Ellen from properly divorcing her husband, so when he realizes the depth of his feelings for Ellen, he cannot do much about them...as she is not a free woman, and essentially, neither is he.
Hopefully that is enough to go on as I don't want to spoil things for those that wish to read this book. As mentioned above and in a previous post, I am reading this novel for class. It's not my first book by Wharton and overall, she's quite a good author. I loved learning more about Wharton as a person and that she shunned the type of society that Archer and May grew up in, which makes her a bit more like Ellen than any of the other characters, I think.
Overall, I enjoyed The Age of Innocence. It would be great for people interested in this time period and old New York society, but not suitable for those that don't like slower-paced novels. One of my bigger issues with the book are all the descriptions. I'm much more of a dialogue reader and overly descriptive passages tend to bore me. The Age of Innocence has a nice mix overall, and I understood that most of the descriptions that Wharton included were necessary, so it wasn't completely bothersome. One of the highlights was actually the end, which might surprise some that have read the book or end up reading the book but I feel like it was suitable for the characters and the world they lived in.
I'm curious though- since this is a classic novel- who had to read it for a class? Or did you pick it up for fun? Feel free to share your thoughts- but no big spoilers!