Review: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Posted February 5, 2013 by shooting in Uncategorized / 9 Comments

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Review by Lauren

Copy: I bought this for school

Review: I suppose because this is an older book, I cannot find an official summary that doesn’t give away the entire plot. However, I will try and briefly explain what The Age of Innocence is about. The book mostly follows the point of view of Newland Archer, who is engaged to be married to May Welland. However, May’s cousin, Countess Olenska (or Ellen) is back in town from living in Europe for many years. She has left her husband, which is a bit of a scandal for old New York society. Ellen does not realize this, though, and believes everyone to be warmly welcoming her back.

As Archer gets to know Ellen, he soon finds himself falling for her, but he’s grown up in this society and knows it would not be proper to leave May. At the same time, he discourages Ellen from properly divorcing her husband, so when he realizes the depth of his feelings for Ellen, he cannot do much about them…as she is not a free woman, and essentially, neither is he.

Hopefully that is enough to go on as I don’t want to spoil things for those that wish to read this book. As mentioned above and in a previous post, I am reading this novel for class. It’s not my first book by Wharton and overall, she’s quite a good author. I loved learning more about Wharton as a person and that she shunned the type of society that Archer and May grew up in, which makes her a bit more like Ellen than any of the other characters, I think.

Overall, I enjoyed The Age of Innocence. It would be great for people interested in this time period and old New York society, but not suitable for those that don’t like slower-paced novels. One of my bigger issues with the book are all the descriptions. I’m much more of a dialogue reader and overly descriptive passages tend to bore me. The Age of Innocence has a nice mix overall, and I understood that most of the descriptions that Wharton included were necessary, so it wasn’t completely bothersome. One of the highlights was actually the end, which might surprise some that have read the book or end up reading the book but I feel like it was suitable for the characters and the world they lived in.

I’m curious though- since this is a classic novel- who had to read it for a class? Or did you pick it up for fun? Feel free to share your thoughts- but no big spoilers!

9 responses to “Review: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

  1. I picked this up for fun, and yes I know what you mean about novels of this era moving at a slow pace. I read it after watching the movie that came out in the mid 1990's with Michelle Pfeiffer. You should check it out. The costumes in it are gorgeous!

  2. I'm not that big a fan of historical fiction, but I'm glad you liked this one a lot! My friend is really into historical stuff like this, so I'm definitely going to recommend it to her soon! And the romance between Archer and Ellen sounds fantastic 🙂

  3. I do love HF and old society NY novels but I haven't had the patience for the lengthy descriptions. Thank goodness for YA! (Or maybe that's what ruined me!) This does sound like a really good story though!

  4. I read this for fun but had been forced to read Ethan Frome for class (hated that!) I do enjoy society novels and as a big Austen fan, I can handle slower-paced novels. I remember not really liking the end of this though.

  5. I'm not sure if you've read it yet, but I have to recommend Anna Godberson's 'The Luxe' series. It takes place in 1899, as well, but has a 'Gossip Girl' flair to it. Incredibly addicting! 🙂

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