Monday, 2 February 2015

Edith Wharton, What A Literary Marvel & Surprise.

One of the Grand Masters Of Literature?

Yes, I know that my friends and family are aware of my proclivity for Heyer, an occasional Roberts and of course the numerous Who done it? in between. Reading is my passion and has been since I was a young girl devouring an Enid Blyton book under the covers with a torch. Nowadays, a parental threat of ' lights out! ' isn't an issue anymore for a Kind owning a kindle.

As you know, Bob and I were given books and we are still in a state of euphoria over it and the prospect of languishing comfortably on our favourite reading perches for the foreseeable future. There is such a variety of adventures to read, that I decided to make a choice with my eyes closed. Edith Wharton was my inaugural choice from the pile of books.

How can I describe this marvel? From the first page I was hooked. Hooked with such a passion that I have done something that I, as a prolific reader have never done- now and again I read a paragraph or passage out aloud to Bob.

Art lovers have the Grand Masters to idolize and I for one do think that this novel of Edith Wharton - The Age of Innocence - is one of those rare literary Grand Masters. Appreciation of anything ranging from our spouses to the books we are drawn to, is extremely subjective. Yet, every now and again we stumble upon a treasure ( spouse or novel ) by a hint from a good friend.

This novel is a love story told from the backdrop of New York of the 70's...1870's. A New York seen from a vantage ( or disadvantage ) point of the lofty heights of Society with all those quirky mannerisms and social customs coupled with the underlying irony of it all.

Did I mention that Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1921?

... Mrs. Manson Mingott had long since succeeded in untying her husbands's fortune, and had lived in affluence for half a century; but memories of her early straits had made her excessively thrifty, and though, when she bought a dress or piece of furniture, she took care that it should be of the best, she could not bring herself to spend much on the transient pleasures of the table. Therefore, for totally different reasons, her food was as poor as Mrs. Archer's, and her wines did nothing to redeem it...

...It was a principle in the Welland family that people's days and hours should be what Mrs. Welland called " provided for. " The melancholy possibility of having to " kill time " ( especially for those who did not care for whist or solitaire ) was a vision that haunted her as the spectre of the unemployed haunts the philanthropist. Another of her principles was that parents should never ( at least visibly ) interfere with the plans of married children; and the difficulty of adjusting this respect for May's independence with the exigency of Mr. Welland's claims could be overcome only by the exercise of an ingenuity which left not a second of Mrs. Welland's own time unprovided for....

Let me know whether you liked the book, or have read it already and loved it...