- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (19 Jan. 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1844083500
- ISBN-13: 978-1844083503
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.3 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,779,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Age Of Innocence (Virago Modern Classics) Paperback – 19 Jan 2006
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'One of the best novels of the twentieth century' New York Times Review of Books 'A rich and powerful description of a vanished world' Penelope Lively 'There is no woman in American literature as fascinating as the doomed Madame Olenska ... Traditiona
The Age of Innocence' is widely considered to be Edith Wharton's finest novel. It is is also a major film directed by Martin Scorsese.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
What is fascinating about the novel, for me, is how nothing portrayed is at all as it seems, and yet there are never any glaring or obvious revelations or realisations - Wharton creates an environment in which everything is so delicately balanced that the tiniest ripple can assume seismic proportions. Newland Archer, a slave to respectability, and yet a closet dreamer, sees the beauty of the society he lives in, and its hypocrisy, but he never fully appreciates the strength of its ties and strictures until he finds himself drawn to the lovely Ellen Olenska, who symbolises, for him, a freedom and daring that he has never known. His affianced bride, May Welland, pales in comparison - to him she is merely an obedient ornament, a 'curtain dropped before an emptiness,' but he never realises the strength that lies underneath her apparent frailty. It is the steel in May Welland's character that is one of the most interesting aspects of the novel; Ellen Olenska outwardly appears to be a strong, free spirit, who shuns convention, but she is buffeted and bruised by the society that the delicate May Welland represents. May sees far more than Newland ever credits her for, and it seems that his journey through the novel is chiefly about the gradual realisation of all that he has missed. Newland is perhaps the only true innocent in the world he inhabits.
The novel is intensely bittersweet, and there are no clear heroes or villains, only individual strengths and weaknesses operating in an environment where society itself is the deity that controls all.Read more ›
The novel is broadly set in New York at about the end of the First World War. Wharton's characters are wealthy, upper middle class and striving to maintain the social mores that define their social milieu. Her characters organise exclusive social gatherings, attend the opera and gossip about the behaviour and fortune of each other. The two protagonists that potentially disrupt and shake up the attitude and behaviour of this group are Newland Archer and Ellen Olenska. Ellen, a member of the Welland family, has lived in Europe in an unhappy marriage to one count Olenska. She returns to New York apparently to escape the count's depravity and ultimately obtain a divorce. Ellen represents the outsider who perhaps unwittingly disrupts the cosy social life of her family and their friends. Newland Archer, a young lawyer engaged to May Welland, a cousin of Ellen Olenska, is given the task of persuading Ellen not to seek a divorce from her husband. A divorce would undermine the family's standing in their social context.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved this book! When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it, and when I was reading it, I was there with the characters. Read morePublished 1 month ago by ImaginationBird
1870's the Golden Age of Old New York. In one year Newland Archer and May Welland are to be man and wife. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Elspeth G. Perkin
Beautiful cover edition of a tragic story of a woman trapped in a marriage. Her rebellion is at times futile and highlights the advantages of today's society. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
Warning: contain spoilers!
A good novel is not just a story which entertains, helps you pass the time and leaves you with no trace of intellectual imprints except of the... Read more