I first read The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton after watching the 1993 film starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder.
I absolutely loved the costumes and the sets. I was attracted to the story because the struggle Newland Archer endures would never occur in modern society. Newland falls in love with one woman while engaged to another. In the 21st century, we would say this is a sign Newland is not meant to be with his fiancée, but in Victorian New York an engagement is like a contract and not so easily voided.
I felt sorry for May, the fiancée, because she is unaware Newland has feelings for another, but I found myself rooting for Newland and Countess Olenska, May’s cousin and the other woman.
Winner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize, The Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton’s masterful portrait of desire and betrayal during the sumptuous Golden Age of Old New York, a time when society people “dreaded scandal more than disease.”
This is Newland Archer’s world as he prepares to marry the beautiful but conventional May Welland. But when the mysterious Countess Ellen Olenska returns to New York after a disastrous marriage, Archer falls deeply in love with her. Torn between duty and passion, Archer struggles to make a decision that will either courageously define his life—or mercilessly destroy it.
This is the novel that made me love Edith Wharton. I highly recommend it to anyone seeking to read about the Gilded Age from someone who lived through it or for anyone seeking to expand their library of American classics.
Have you read The Age of Innocence? What did you think of it?
- Do You Have a Love-Hate Relationship With Your Characters? - July 29, 2021
- In My Home Library: Angle of Repose - July 26, 2021
- Angel of Mercy Relaunches July 22 - July 22, 2021