Posts tagged Edith Wharton
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Published in 1905, The House of Mirth was the novel that launched Edith Wharton’s name as a celebrated novelist several years into her occupation as a writer. An instant classic, it remains one of the pillars among her bibliography of more than fifty works. Why it took me this long to read it, I’ll frankly never know. The novel tells the story of bold, ethereally beautiful Lily Bart whose impassioned desire for all things luxurious in life clashes with her meager income and single status. Marrying rich seems to be her only option, and that excludes from her a future with Lawrence Selden, the handsome and inadequately-financed lawyer with whom she feels most liberated to be herself. Scurrying through the maddeningly treacherous formalities of the social sphere, Lily must learn to hoist herself up amid the unkind words and devious schemes of people disguised as friends.

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The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields

In the first decade of the 1900s Edith Wharton’s name begins to rise amid the literary world as her novel The House of Mirth sees great success, thanks in part to the aid of her devoted secretary, her former governess and greatest friend, Anna Bahlmann. Living with the Whartons as a servant and yet held in a companionable station to both Edith and her husband, Teddy, Anna lives at the brink of two very different worlds, viewing Edith’s high society success from a position affording her no rank or attribution. Anna, though, gives no thought to her own recognition; she is interested only in lifting up her closest friend to the best of her ability. When Edith, struggling in her midlife, famously embarks on a tumultuous affair with the young journalist Morton Fullerton, the two women find their friendship precariously threatened by Anna’s disapproval. Edith claims that she never loved her husband, and as Anna’s heart solicitously goes out to the kindly, simple Teddy Wharton a new chasm is marked in their friendship, illuminating the stark differences in their personalities. Unable to detach herself from Edith’s life, Anna must summon her strength to endeavor through this lonely new territory while Edith herself must face the consequences of her actions. Intertwining passages from Edith Wharton’s diaries and letters, The Age of Desire depicts an iconic time in history from the perspective of two resolute and very different women.

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