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The Age of Innocence Turtleback – Jan 1 1996


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Product Details

  • Turtleback: 313 pages
  • Publisher: Demco Media (January 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 060608973X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0606089739
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 11.4 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Clyde Phillips on July 8 2004
Format: Paperback
The reading public must have been taken by shock when, in 1920, Wharton published this novel. Written off by most of the critics and audience of her time as having her best literary years far behind her, she produced what is arguably her most important work. Her story of New York City in the 1870s, where family name and propriety counted as much as accumulated wealth, resonated with readers who were just beginning to catch hints of the looming social revolution that would come later in the decade - and once again shatter time tested institutions. Wharton's looking back to the time of her youth (she was 57 when the book was published) is neither too sentimental nor too critical, but simply a fond remembrance of the time and place in which she lived and, like Madame Olenska, eventually escaped.
However, it is not with Madame Olenska but with Newland Archer that Wharton is closest associated. Belonging to similar social castes, both the author and Newland are able to see the foibles in their social milieu but in no way are ready to discard it totally. Whereas, in the end, both are ready to follow their individual paths from Old New York they are fully aware of what is expected of them as members of this society, and act accordingly. This is the central theme of the novel: individual desire vs. collective propriety. In the hands of a lesser author, this conflict could have resulted in a quite heavy and didactic work - and as interesting as an evening at a needlepoint demonstration. By clothing her novel in the time tested mantle of a love story, she is given rein to employ her talents to the fullest. In short, she re-creates the New York City of the 1870s and peoples it with characters that seem to be historical, not just based on historical models.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chandler Merrell on June 12 2000
Format: Paperback
At the risk of offending the literary world, this is the slowest piece of fiction I have ever read. The story is about New York, circa 1880, and the stuffiness of the elite class.
The author descibed her characters succintly in Chapter 33 when she wrote " It was the old New York way of taking life " without effusion of blood": the way of people who dreaded scandal more than disease, who placed decency above courage, and who considered that nothing was more ill-bred than scenes, except the behaviour of those who gave rise to them".
The plot centers upon a engaged lawyer, Newland Archer. From one of the finest families in New York, he falls for an exotic beauty with a scandalous past, the Countess Olenska, who also happens to be his fiance's cousin.
The young man struggles with whether he settles into the staid and boring life that his family name and status have earned him surrounded by people he despises, or does he follow his heart. He defends the charcter of the mysterious and exotic Countess Olenska, who is scorned by both family and friends. The Countess, equally in love with Archer, makes the hard decision to let Archer go so he can fulfill the life that has been planned for him.
Beautifully written but dreadfully slow.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dogyn Hood on Aug. 19 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not exactly a fast paced book by any means but this novel gives a you a look at a New York where 'nice women don't associate with people who write things' (o even worse painters) An inside look at the upper class of New York city in the early 1900'2
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Erin on Jan. 15 2009
Format: Paperback
Wharton's story about taboo love and social mores in New York high society puts Jane Austen's quaint, fluffy world to shame. It is written in a prose that is exquisitely styled - fitting the period of the story - but has a richness and cunning that fully and ardently conveys all the intrigue, passion, and emotion of the story. Wharton's descriptions are unparalleled; her depiction of New York high society is absolutely enrapturing - it is a world that will live on in your imagination.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Jan. 10 2009
Format: Paperback
It was a glittering, sumptuous time when hypocrisy was expected, discreet infidelity tolerated, and unconventionality ostracized.

That is the Gilded Age, and nobody knew its hypocrises better than Edith Wharton.... and nobody portrayed them as well. "The Age of Innocence" is a trip back in time to the stuffy upper crust of "old New York," taking us through one respectable man's hopeless love affair with a beautiful woman -- and the life he isn't brave enough to have.

Newland Archer, of a wealthy old New York family, has become engaged to pretty, naive May Welland. But as he tries to get their wedding date moved up, he becomes acquainted with May's exotic cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska, who has returned home after dumping her cheating husband. At first, the two are just friends, but Newland becomes more and more entranced by the Countess' easy, free-spirited European charm.

After Newland marries May, the attraction to the mysterious Countess and her free, unconventional life becomes even stronger. He starts to rebel in little ways, but he's still mired in a 100% conventional marriage, job and life. Will he become an outcast and go away with the beautiful countess, or will he stick with May and the safe, dull life that he has condemned in others?

There's nothing too scandalous about "Age of Innocence" in a time when starlets acquire and discard boyfriends and husbands like old pantyhose -- it probably wasn't in the 1920s when it was first published. But then, this isn't a book about sexiness and steam -- it's part bittersweet romance, part social satire, and a look at what happens when human beings lose all spontaneity and passion.
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