Show Book List

Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Jandy's Reading Room
Diane L. Schirf

Edith Wharton

The Age of Innocence

Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence is set in upper class New York society in the 1870's. Newland Archer is engaged to May Welland and when May's cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska arrives to escape from an unhappy marriage in Europe, Archer agrees to help with to introduce her to the ways of New York society. But he soon sees her as much more than May's cousin. Now for other men the consequences would be simple, a respectable marriage to May and a clandestine affair with Ellen. Archer doesn't want that - but what exactly does he want?

The book illustrates well the struggles to come to terms with life in a claustrophobic society. Archer often considers starting a new life with Ellen, but in the end cannot bring himself to go through with it.

Wharton does have a disconcerting tendency to skip a few months, and it is during these months that the reader might expect a significant part of the plot to occur - but it doesn't. You might think that you would be screaming at Archer to make up his mind, but I didn't find that - part of Wharton's skill is in creating a scenario where his behaviour seems rational. In the end one sees that it isn't a sign of indecisiveness, rather it represents the only way that he can be true to himself.

You can read The Age of Innocence at info
Mass Market Paperback 352 pages  
ISBN: 1593080743
Salesrank: 1568051
Published: 2004 Sterling Publishing
Amazon price $4.95
Marketplace:New from $0.25:Used from $0.10
Buy from info
Paperback 384 pages  
ISBN: 0140622055
Salesrank: 1392868
Weight:0.53 lbs
Published: 1996 Penguin Classics
Marketplace:New from £3.99:Used from £0.01
Buy from info
ISBN: 1857152026
Salesrank: 2449891
Weight:1.15 lbs
Published: book-of-the -month
Amazon price CDN$ 42.95
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 36.45:Used from CDN$ 16.41
Buy from

Product Description
Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars Biographies of the authors Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events Footnotes and endnotes Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work Comments by other famous authors Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations Bibliographies for further reading Indices & Glossaries, when appropriateAll editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.
Winner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize, The Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton’s masterful portrait of desire and betrayal during the sumptuous Golden Age of Old New York, a time when society people “dreaded scandal more than disease.”

This is Newland Archer’s world as he prepares to marry the beautiful but conventional May Welland. But when the mysterious Countess Ellen Olenska returns to New York after a disastrous marriage, Archer falls deeply in love with her. Torn between duty and passion, Archer struggles to make a decision that will either courageously define his life—or mercilessly destroy it.

Maureen Howard is a critic, teacher, and writer of fiction. Her seven novels include Bridgeport Bus, Natural History, and A Lover’s Almanac. Her memoir, Facts of Life, won the National Book Critics’ Circle Award. She has taught at Yale and Columbia University.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews