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Topic: Has anyone read/enjoyed Edith Wharton?

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Subject: Has anyone read/enjoyed Edith Wharton?
Date Posted: 3/3/2011 10:33 PM ET
Member Since: 6/24/2009
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I just started Summer by Edith Wharton and wondered if anyone else enjoyed or recommended her novels?

Date Posted: 3/4/2011 1:11 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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I've only read Ethan Frome and enjoyed that quite a bit.

Date Posted: 3/4/2011 3:21 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2006
Posts: 315
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In the last five years or so, I've read and enjoyed Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence, A Mother's Recompense, The Children, and Hudson River Bracketed. I'd recommend all of them to somebody wanting to explore Wharton except Hudson River Bracketed which I'd recommend only to those who are already EW fans. To my mind, her masterpiece is The Custom of the Country, starring the worldling Undine Sprague. I like the themes of American living overseas and dealing with other cultures; characters struggling to do what they think is right; and the struggle of old conservative money losing out ethics-free sloppy new money. I don't like so much her descriptions of decor and interiors.

Date Posted: 3/4/2011 8:46 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
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I second all of what Matt said, having read only two besides Ethan Frome, which I regard most lowly. She is a truly fine craftsman. She was of this old, conservative urban culture, having married into it. I am surprised Matt did not mention The House of Mirth. It is equal to The Age of Innocence, and I liked it a little better.

Stopping to think about is, Wharton is a lot like an American counterpart of Jane Austen with respects to her careful craftsmanship and the society which is ner narrow turf.

Date Posted: 3/5/2011 12:28 PM ET
Member Since: 6/24/2009
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Thanks for all the feedback.  I did a little autobiographical checking before starting and Edith Wharton seems to have been a very interesting person.  Also the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize is impressive.  Most of the novels I've heard of seem to be about the culture she grew up in, except Ethan Frome and Summer.

I am getting into Summer now, but I'm having a hard time with the main character.  I like a lot of character development and Wharton has not really done that, at least in this story.  Sometimes I think I understand Charity and sometimes I don't.  Maybe that is part of Wharton's genius, developing characters whose motivation is not always obvious, or consistent.  Charity is supposedly from small town New England......and so am I......but I don't recognize her.  Anyway, it is making me think and that is always a good thing.   ;^)

Jane Austen is one of my favorites so I may try one of the novels mentioned by John and Matt next. Thanks for the suggestions.

Date Posted: 3/5/2011 5:20 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Although I can't say I  enjoyed Ethan Frome, the story EW told certainly did compel the reader's close attention.  Wharton had a sharp eye and a sharp tongue and both The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth are books not to be missed.  I have never forgotten poor deluded Lily Bart (of The House of Mirth).

Last Edited on: 1/6/12 7:04 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 3/7/2011 8:00 PM ET
Member Since: 12/22/2008
Posts: 533
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I've read and loved Ethan Frome and The Age of Innocence.  I can't wait to read House of Mirth and Custom of the Country.  Wharton is one of my favorite authors.

Date Posted: 3/9/2011 7:32 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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House of Mirth is on my shelf. It's been there a year or more. I know how the story ends, so I have no desire to read it.

Date Posted: 3/11/2011 3:39 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
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Edith Wharton is among my favorites. I also like Henry James.

Date Posted: 10/9/2011 3:17 PM ET
Member Since: 10/3/2011
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The Buccaneers - dvd - is fabulous, but I haven't read the book yet.

Date Posted: 10/9/2011 6:41 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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Loved The Age of Innocence, liked House of Mirth, hated Ethan Fromme.
Date Posted: 10/9/2011 11:40 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 551
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The only book by Edith Wharton that I truly loved is Ethan Frome!


Date Posted: 1/6/2012 9:27 AM ET
Member Since: 11/10/2011
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I just ordered the book, The Buccaneers, and that will be my first time reading Edith Wharton.  I hope that she is excellent.  :)

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 1/7/2012 1:44 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
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I like Edith Wharton...I've read Ethan Frome, House of Mirth, and my favorite is her short story "Roman Fever."  I have Age of Innocence on my Kindle to read for the challenge (Pulitzer prize winner, I think).