The Age of Innocence

PDF EBook by Edith Wharton

EBook Description

“We can't behave like people in novels, though, can we?”

A few years ago, I read The Age of Innocence and thought it was okay. The Age of Innocence PDF EBook It has something of an Austen- PDFesque feel - criticisms of middle/upper middle class society, paired with a subtle and clever humour and a love story (here deliciously scandalous). But it's taken me a few years to come back to this novel and appreciate the magic Wharton has brought to the table.

This little book is so clever. Everything about it from the damn title to nearly every piece of dialogue is perfectly-placed and often ironic. Things that didn't hit me fully the first time around became so much more important in this reread. Wharton knows 1870s New York City like the back of her hand; download; she knows its habits, its traditions, and its expectations of people. She creates a rich, twinkly picture of parties and social standards that is both delightful and ultimately ridiculous - then she throws a spanner in the works.

Never has a love triangle been so welcomed by me. This isn't the modern affair we're used to, where a girl must choose between hot guy #1 and hot guy #2. Nope, in this story, Newland Archer is torn between the stability, comfort and duty he can be offered by the socially-favoured match with May Welland... and his passionate, all-consuming love for the unconventional, rebellious and ostracized Ellen Olenska.

“Each time you happen to me all over again.”

It's as important as it is beautifully written. Wharton casts an eye over this society, both disdainful and affectionate. Incorporating issues of female emancipation into the story, never has the idea of a woman enslaved by marriage and convention seemed so unattractive from a male perspective. Newland Archer is full of modernity and the call of new ideas, but finds that any freedom he poses to May she would receive only with the intention of pleasing him. Though, it should be said, I believe May is far more than she seems.

It's hard to read the ending of this book without feeling emotional, but the exact emotion may differ with your interpretation. Ambiguity reigns supreme as this novel finds its close and even the coldest of unromantics will surely have their hearts pulled along for this... ride. One of my favourite tragic love affairs.

“Only, I wonder – the thing one’s so certain of in advance: can it ever make one’s heart beat as wildly?”

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