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The Fruit of the Tree Paperback – Oct 29 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 412 pages
  • Publisher: BiblioBazaar (Oct. 29 2007)
  • 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 3 customer reviews
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Product Description

About the Author

Edith Wharton was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, known for such classics as The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome, and The Age of Innocence, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921. A member of the New York elite, Wharton drew on her experiences as part of society to critique its inner workings and the conflict between personal desires and societal norms. Wharton died in 1937, leaving behind a rich literary legacy. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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: HASH(0x9fd37cb4) out of 5 stars 13 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f47dd08) out of 5 stars 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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f48018c) out of 5 stars 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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f4801b0) out of 5 stars Unsuccessful experiment with a socko last section April 15 2013
By Catholic book friend - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am on a Wharton rampage at the moment, tearing through less-known works that I had never even heard of until recently. As far as I know, this is the only one of her novels that deals head-on with industrial labor-management problems. It concerns a factory in a depressing small town: the oppressive conditions of its workers, the unjust wealth and ease it creates for its owners and their hanger-ons, and what happens when a determined reformer sets out to change the way the factory is run. Wharton portrays these issues through the story of the reformer's troubled relationships with two women, the rich young widow who owns the mills and a nurse, a childhood friend of the widow's who must now earn her way in the world. The nurse is the novel's real protagonist.

Unlike other writers who tackle class conflicts, e.g., Balzac or Eliot, Wharton makes the sketchiest possible effort to depict the workers themselves. She sticks to the milieu she knows, the world of upper-class drawing rooms, although as usual she reveals them to be full of secret social and economic tensions. Unfortunately, Wharton's distance from her chosen subject-matter--we are not even told what the factory and mills produce (some kind of cloth, apparently, as there is talk of carding-machines)--distances the reader from it as well. We learn much more about the thwarted desires of the do-gooder than about the desires of the human beings whom he proposes to help. As a result, both his motives and his plans are rather suspect in a way that I am not sure Wharton intended. The novel itself becomes abstract and dull and the characters don't come to life. I found myself feeling sympathetic toward those who resist the reformer, especially his first wife (the widow), whom he expects to hand him her mills and money to manage, to reduce her lifestyle, to rent out one of her properties, etc.

The marriage fails almost as soon as it begins along with the reformer's plans. Wharton then has to devise a way for the reformer to achieve his goals while also finding him a more suitable helpmeet. Wharton does not like divorce, so the wife must die. This plot requirement leads to the only really interesting part of the book. Previous reviewers have already explained how Wharton pulls the plot off. I will just add that the last part of the book unexpectedly rises nearly to the level of Wharton's great novels as we follow the twists and turns of the heroine's moral life as she slowly, agonizingly comes to terms with the repercussions of a well-intentioned but unlawful act of mercy. But the reformer, now her husband, finally achieves his dreams without having to undergo a comparable moral awakening. The book ends, like so many Wharton novels, on a chilling note of female suffering and injustice. Read it for the last section.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f4804c8) out of 5 stars 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.
19 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f480174) out of 5 stars 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


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