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The Fruit of the Tree Paperback – Jan 11 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: BiblioLife (Jan. 11 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1434668266
  • ISBN-13: 978-1434668264
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Product Description

About the Author

Edith Wharton (1862-1937) is best known as a novelist of "Old New York" society. Born to a privileged family in New York City, she spent much of her life living abroad. Among her numerous novels, short stories, and travel writings are The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome, and the Pulitzer prize-winning Age of Innocence. She died in France at her villa outside Paris. DONNA CAMPBELL is Assistant Professor of English at Gonzaga University. She is the author of Resisting Regionalism: Gender and Naturalism in American Fiction, 1885-1915. She lives in Spokane, Washington. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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By Dave_42 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Oct. 2 2010
Format: Paperback
"The Fruit of the Tree" by Edith Wharton is well written, but falls short of her previous effort "The House of Mirth". Published originally on October 19th of 1907, it is split into four books. The novel touches on social progress in the form of improvements for the working class, and then moves into an interesting ethical situation when it comes to the idea of euthanasia. The last part is the most interesting part of the book for me, and it is amazing to see how little the discussion has changed in the last hundred years.

In book one, a young man, John Amherst, takes advantage of an opportunity to push for significant change in the Westwood Mills. The opportunity is in the form of Bessy Langhope, the recently widowed wife and now owner of the mills. On the heels of an accident where a worker loses an arm, he is in the position of giving her a guided tour of the mills. She shows initial interest in making life better for the workers at the mills, but she is easily dissuaded and distracted from making any real change by those who her husband had put in charge of the mills. The result is that John Amherst is let go by those men, and though Bessy offers to intercede on his behalf, he is against her taking any such action. Her last appeal to him is of a more personal nature, and that is where the book ends. Another key character is Justine, a nurse who helps make John aware of the severity of the accident.

Book two picks up after John and Bessy have married. In this section, John learns the true nature of Bessy. Though she can be stirred to action when confronted directly with issues, when the changes at the mills start to impact her finances, she starts to move away from letting John implement the changes he knows are so desperately needed.
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By Austin Elliott on March 5 2000
Format: Hardcover
"The Fruit of The Tree",Edith Wharton's third novel,remains the most misunderstood of all her writings.It has usually been criticized,even by those who admire it,as "brokenbacked" in structure and unsatisfying with its inclusion of the seemingly contoversial subjects of labor reform and euthanasia in a work that examines marriage and satirizes the idle class.This is primarily the reason "The Fruit of The Tree" has not been published in ninety years;hopefully,readers will rediscover a memorable book with its fascinating portrait of turn of the century America with themes which are still timely.It tells the story of a young nurse,whose intelligence and maturity attracts a brilliant young doctor working to reform deplorable labor conditions for the poor.Despite the nurse's admiration for the doctor's progressivism and her growing love for the doctor's person,he becomes infatuated with the gentle elegance of a beautiful and rich society girl-the nurse's best friend.The society girl supports the doctor's work financially to the great animus of her friends and advisers and eventually becomes smitten with him.They marry,only to discover their incompatibility when the doctor's new schemes for reform are baulked by his wife's love of comfort and security.The doctor by this time realizes that the nurse loves him and that he reciprocates.He argues with his wife and they seperate;the wife left alone breaks her spine in a riding accident and being attended by her friend,the nurse,begs her to kill her.The nurse seeing that her case is desperate(this is a century ago,remember)and influenced by the doctor's support of euthanasia-does so.The nurse falls under suspicion with the public and even the doctor suspects her of killing his wife because of her love for him.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I'm not sure why two positive reviews, including one that appears to be a piece of advertising for something called "Republica Publishing," show up with no stars. At any rate, this is one of Wharton's most interesting novels, although it doesn't have the symmetrical structure of THE HOUSE OF MIRTH and THE AGE OF INNOCENCE. If you're interested in a different work by Edith Wharton, one that involves industrialism, professions for women, euthanasia, divorce, and a host of interesting events, try THE FRUIT OF THE TREE.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Not your average Wharton novel, but well worth reading! Feb. 15 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm not sure why two positive reviews, including one that appears to be a piece of advertising for something called "Republica Publishing," show up with no stars. At any rate, this is one of Wharton's most interesting novels, although it doesn't have the symmetrical structure of THE HOUSE OF MIRTH and THE AGE OF INNOCENCE. If you're interested in a different work by Edith Wharton, one that involves industrialism, professions for women, euthanasia, divorce, and a host of interesting events, try THE FRUIT OF THE TREE.
19 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Laacoon. March 5 2000
By Austin Elliott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"The Fruit of The Tree",Edith Wharton's third novel,remains the most misunderstood of all her writings.It has usually been criticized,even by those who admire it,as "brokenbacked" in structure and unsatisfying with its inclusion of the seemingly contoversial subjects of labor reform and euthanasia in a work that examines marriage and satirizes the idle class.This is primarily the reason "The Fruit of The Tree" has not been published in ninety years;hopefully,readers will rediscover a memorable book with its fascinating portrait of turn of the century America with themes which are still timely.It tells the story of a young nurse,whose intelligence and maturity attracts a brilliant young doctor working to reform deplorable labor conditions for the poor.Despite the nurse's admiration for the doctor's progressivism and her growing love for the doctor's person,he becomes infatuated with the gentle elegance of a beautiful and rich society girl-the nurse's best friend.The society girl supports the doctor's work financially to the great animus of her friends and advisers and eventually becomes smitten with him.They marry,only to discover their incompatibility when the doctor's new schemes for reform are baulked by his wife's love of comfort and security.The doctor by this time realizes that the nurse loves him and that he reciprocates.He argues with his wife and they seperate;the wife left alone breaks her spine in a riding accident and being attended by her friend,the nurse,begs her to kill her.The nurse seeing that her case is desperate(this is a century ago,remember)and influenced by the doctor's support of euthanasia-does so.The nurse falls under suspicion with the public and even the doctor suspects her of killing his wife because of her love for him.They marry,but she is haunted by the fact that despite her protestations of innocence,her husband tacitly believes her culpable."The Fruit of The Tree",subtly depicts the price one pays for following conscience and being ahead of one's time.The novel is not "about" labor reform or euthanasia but uses these to show how today's controversial ideas are usually tomorrow's accepted facts;that the progress of our civilization,accepted as a matter of course, is at the cost of the toil and suffering of others.Bitter is the fruit,indeed.I cannot rate,"The Fruit of The Tree" among Edith Wharton's greatest works,however.The style of the book while good,never reaches the sustained brilliance which she achieves in "The House of Mirth","The Custom of The Country" and "The Age of Innocence",works of which the prose is unrivalled in English fiction. Nevertheless it is a fine novel,and deserves recognition for its well integrated artistry. END
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I was ready to give it 3 stars until.... Jan. 1 2011
By LFNYC - Published on Amazon.com
As another reviewer said, a three star Wharton is really 10 stars compared to most other fiction material...of any age. There are enough lengthy synopsis type reviews of this book...another one is not necessary. But I will make a couple additional points:

1) This should not be the first Wharton novel you read. It is just not compelling from the first to last page the way her 'big 3' (Innocence, Mirth, and my fave, Custom of the Country)are. The first half drags from too much time spent with excessive ruminating in the heads of the characters as she lays out their complexities and story line. However...

2)The last third of the book more than makes up for it...and the final turn in the last chapter is right up there with her best. So it deserves 4 stars after all. Again...if you haven't read other Wharton works, don't start with this one. Not her best, but a worthwhile read if you stick with it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Justine is a very appealing character July 4 2012
By Joan Sutton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Unbound
I thoroughly enjoyed this excellent novel. Wharton has created two flawed yet admirable characters - the young doctor Amherst and the virtuous nurse Justine. It wrung my heart out. But then all Wharton's novels do that to me. She is such an excellent writer that she brings you into her world more effectively than a movie. Her books are all very difficult to lay aside and stay with you long after reading them. I downloaded her complete works onto my Kindle for 99 cents! Never were pennies more effectively spent.
Interesting Ethical Situations Oct. 2 2010
By Dave_42 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"The Fruit of the Tree" by Edith Wharton is well written, but falls short of her previous effort "The House of Mirth". Published originally on October 19th of 1907, it is split into four books. The novel touches on social progress in the form of improvements for the working class, and then moves into an interesting ethical situation when it comes to the idea of euthanasia. The last part is the most interesting part of the book for me, and it is amazing to see how little the discussion has changed in the last hundred years.

In book one, a young man, John Amherst, takes advantage of an opportunity to push for significant change in the Westwood Mills. The opportunity is in the form of Bessy Langhope, the recently widowed wife and now owner of the mills. On the heels of an accident where a worker loses an arm, he is in the position of giving her a guided tour of the mills. She shows initial interest in making life better for the workers at the mills, but she is easily dissuaded and distracted from making any real change by those who her husband had put in charge of the mills. The result is that John Amherst is let go by those men, and though Bessy offers to intercede on his behalf, he is against her taking any such action. Her last appeal to him is of a more personal nature, and that is where the book ends. Another key character is Justine, a nurse who helps make John aware of the severity of the accident.

Book two picks up after John and Bessy have married. In this section, John learns the true nature of Bessy. Though she can be stirred to action when confronted directly with issues, when the changes at the mills start to impact her finances, she starts to move away from letting John implement the changes he knows are so desperately needed. Justine is a friend both to John and Bessy and can see them being pulled apart, largely through lack of communications, but also by their social connections. Friends of Bessy are concerned about her finances, as well as the future for her daughter Cicely from her first marriage. Another stress point between John and Bessy is the loss of their own child through a miscarriage. This chapter ends with John and Bessy becoming separated.

Book three largely centers on Bessy and Justine during the separation. Justine works to try to bring John back, but he is stubborn, and Bessy is as well. Their inability to communicate with each other is what really keeps them apart, but deep down Justine knows that they both still care for each other. When a tragic accident occurs and Bessy is suffering and likely dying, Justine does all she can to find and bring John back, but he has taken a trip to South America and is difficult to contact. Justine is concerned about Bessy's sufferings. Dry Wyant strongly believes she can recover, but ignores the suffering aspect. Dr. Garford seems to believe she won't make it, but also admits that anything could happen. Justine while treating Bessy by herself, and hearing the pleas of her patient, breaks down and gives an overdose of morphine. Shortly after, Dr. Wyant comes in and realizes what occurred. This is where book three ends.

Book four has John Amherst back and fully in charge of the mills. He treats them like a trust for Bessy's daughter Cicely, and gives credit for his reforms to Bessy and Cicely but not himself. Justine has taken on the job of taking care of Cicely, the secret of what she has done remains, with only herself and Dr. Wyant aware of what took place. John and Justine grow together, and get married, but Dr. Wyant's career and life are going in a negative direction, and he starts asking for help from Justine. She gives small amounts to try to help him, but she feels he is no longer fit to be a doctor so she refuses to help him get a position. The threat of Wyant telling John or Bessy's father still remain, and this is where the discussion of the morality of euthanasia really comes to the foreground. How will John Amherst react, he is a very moral man and loved Bessy, and how will Bessy's father react, as he still has a great deal of influence with Cicely.

The writing is good, but the story feels a bit too much like a soap opera, and the characters sometimes come across as being a bit two-dimensional. Thus, though her use of language and story transitions is improved, overall this novel does not come up to the level of "The House of Mirth" or her other great works. Overall, I am giving this book three stars, but a three star book from Wharton is still not a bad thing to read, and it is interesting to see how little has changed with regards to attitudes towards euthanasia.


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