The Custom of the Country

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Overview

Edith Wharton's satiric anatomy of American society in the first decade of the twentieth century appeared in 1913; it both appalled and fascinated its first reviewers, and established her as a major novelist. The Saturday Review wrote that she had 'assembled as many detestable people as it is possible to pack between the covers of a six-hundred page novel', but concluded that the book was 'brilliantly written', and 'should be read as a parable'. It follows the career of Undine Spragg, recently arrived in New York...
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Overview

Edith Wharton's satiric anatomy of American society in the first decade of the twentieth century appeared in 1913; it both appalled and fascinated its first reviewers, and established her as a major novelist. The Saturday Review wrote that she had 'assembled as many detestable people as it is possible to pack between the covers of a six-hundred page novel', but concluded that the book was 'brilliantly written', and 'should be read as a parable'. It follows the career of Undine Spragg, recently arrived in New York from the Midwest and determined to conquer high society. Glamorous, selfish, mercenary, and manipulative, her principal assets are her striking beauty, her tenacity, and her father's money. With her sights set on an advantageous marriage, Undine pursues her schemes in a world of shifting values, where triumph is swiftly followed by disillusion. Wharton was re-creating an environment she knew intimately, and Undine's education for social success is chronicled in meticulous detail. The novel superbly captures the world of post-Civil War America, as ruthless in its social ambitions as in its business and politics.
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Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Hardwick
Edith Wharton's finest achievement.
From the Publisher
"Edith Wharton's finest achievement."
--Elizabeth Hardwick
Robin Peel University of Plymouth
This is an excellent edition of what I consider to be Wharton's best novel, and it is supported by very valuable supporting material. Arguing that the novel is a satire of consumerism, Sarah Emsley offers a particularly good analysis of Raymond de Chelles as one of the few positive forces, and a husband who acts as a counter to the rampant material ambitions which dominate other parts of the novel. Emsley's introduction also provides a succinct and successful summary of Wharton's life and a good survey of the relevant criticism. The edition ends with a series of extremely useful appendices, including Wharton's outline for the novel, examples of contemporary reviews, extracts from Darwin, Veblen and Santayana and sections on Aestheticism and Women and Marriage."
Donna Campbell Washington State University
"The Custom of the Country satirizes much that Wharton thought was wrong with the US at the turn of the century: serial divorce, rampant consumerism and materialism, indifference to art and literature, and a proudly provincial attitude toward the traditions of Old New York and European culture. Combined with Sarah Emsley's incisive and well-researched introduction and notes, this excellent new edition of the novel includes well-chosen readings ranging from selections by Charles Darwin and Thorstein Veblen to excerpts from novels by Harold Frederic and Anita Loos that shed light on Wharton's audacious protagonist, Undine Spragg. The result is a volume that not only restores the social and economic contexts for the novel but sharpens the reader's appreciation for Wharton's satire in this book, the most savage—and the most humorous—novel of her long career."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780192840615
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/2001
  • Series: Oxford World's Classics Series
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 4.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Edith Wharton

America's most famous woman of letters, and the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, Edith Wharton was born into one of the last "leisured class" families in New York City, as she put it, in 1862. Educated privately, she was married to Edward Wharton in 1885, and for the next few years they spent their time in the high society of Newport, Rhode Island, then Lenox, Massachusetts, and Europe. It was in Europe that Wharton first met Henry James, who was to have a profound and lasting influence on her life and work. Wharton's first published book was a work of nonfiction in collaboration with Ogden Codman, The Decoration of Houses (1897), but from early on, her marriage had been a source of distress, and she was advised by her doctor to write fiction to relieve her nervous tension. Wharton's first short stories appeared in Scribner's Magazine, and although she published several volumes of fiction around the turn of the century, including The Greater Inclination (1899), The Touchstone (1900), Crucial Instances (1901), The Valley of Decision (1902), Sanctuary (1903), and The Descent of Man and Other Stories (1904), it was not until the publication of the bestselling The House of Mirth in 1905 that she was recognized as one of the most important novelists of her time for her keen social insight and subtle sense of satire. In 1906 Wharton visited Paris, which inspired Madame de Treymes (1907), and made her home there in 1907, finally divorcing her husband in 1912. The years before the outbreak of World War I represent the core of her artistic achievement with the publication of Ethan Frome in 1911, The Reef in 1912, and The Custom of the Country in 1913. During the war she remained in France organizing relief for Belgian refugees, for which she was later awarded the Legion of Honor. She also wrote two novels about the war, The Marne (1918) and A Son at the Front (1923), and although living in France she continued to write about New England and the Newport society she knew so well and described in Summer (1917), the companion to Ethan Frome, and The Age of Innocence (1920), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize. Her other works include Old New York (1924), The Mother's Recompense (1925), The Writing of Fiction (1925), The Children (1928), Hudson River Bracketed (1929), and her autobiography, A Backward Glance (1934). She died in France in 1937.

Biography

Edith Newbold Jones was born January 24, 1862, into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." The youngest of three children, Edith spent her early years touring Europe with her parents and, upon the family's return to the United States, enjoyed a privileged childhood in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. Edith's creativity and talent soon became obvious: By the age of eighteen she had written a novella, (as well as witty reviews of it) and published poetry in the Atlantic Monthly.

After a failed engagement, Edith married a wealthy sportsman, Edward Wharton. Despite similar backgrounds and a shared taste for travel, the marriage was not a success. Many of Wharton's novels chronicle unhappy marriages, in which the demands of love and vocation often conflict with the expectations of society. Wharton's first major novel, The House of Mirth, published in 1905, enjoyed considerable Literary Success. Ethan Frome appeared six years later, solidifying Wharton's reputation as an important novelist. Often in the company of her close friend, Henry James, Wharton mingled with some of the most famous writers and artists of the day, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, André Gide, Sinclair Lewis, Jean Cocteau, and Jack London.

In 1913 Edith divorced Edward. She lived mostly in France for the remainder of her life. When World War I broke out, she organized hostels for refugees, worked as a fund-raiser, and wrote for American publications from battlefield frontlines. She was awarded the French Legion of Honor for her courage and distinguished work.

The Age of Innocence, a novel about New York in the 1870s, earned Wharton the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1921 -- the first time the award had been bestowed upon a woman. Wharton traveled throughout Europe to encourage young authors. She also continued to write, lying in her bed every morning, as she had always done, dropping each newly penned page on the floor to be collected and arranged when she was finished. Wharton suffered a stroke and died on August 11, 1937. She is buried in the American Cemetery in Versailles, France.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Age of Innocence.

Good To Know

Upon the publication of The House of Mirth in 1905, Wharton became an instant celebrity, and the the book was an instant bestseller, with 80,000 copies ordered from Scribner's six weeks after its release.

Wharton had a great fondness for dogs, and owned several throughout her life.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Edith Newbold Jones Wharton (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 24, 1862
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      August 11, 1937
    2. Place of Death:
      Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt, France

Read an Excerpt

The Custom of the Country


By Edith Wharton

IndyPublish.com

Copyright © 2004 Edith Wharton
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1414291124


Excerpt

Chapter 1

"Undine Spragg - how can you?" her mother wailed, raising a prematurely-wrinkled hand heavy with rings to defend the note which a languid "bell-boy" had just brought in.

But her defence was as feeble as her protest, and she continued to smile on her visitor while Miss Spragg, with a turn of her quick young fingers, possessed herself of the missive and withdrew to the window to read it.

"I guess it's meant for me," she merely threw over her shoulder at her mother.

"Did you ever, Mrs. Heeny?" Mrs. Spragg murmured with deprecating pride.

Mrs. Heeny, a stout professional-looking person in a waterproof, her rusty veil thrown back, and a shabby alligator bag at her feet, followed the mother's glance with good-humoured approval.

"I never met with a lovelier form," she agreed, answering the spirit rather than the letter of her hostess's enquiry.

Mrs. Spragg and her visitor were enthroned in two heavy gilt armchairs in one of the private drawing-rooms of the Hotel Stentorian. The Spragg rooms were known as one of the Looey suites, and the drawing-room walls, above their wainscoting of highly-varnished mahogany, were hung with salmon-pink damask and adorned with oval portraits of Marie Antoinette and the Princess de Lamballe. In the centre of the florid carpet a gilt table with a top of Mexican onyx sustained a palm in a gilt basket tied with a pink bow. But for this ornament, and a copy of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" which lay beside it, the room showed no traces of human use, and Mrs. Spragg herself wore as complete an air of detachment as if she had been a wax figure in a show-window. Her attire was fashionable enough to justify such a post, and her pale soft-cheeked face, with puffy eye-lids and drooping mouth, suggested a partially-melted wax figure which had run to double-chin.

Mrs. Heeny, in comparison, had a reassuring look of solidity and reality. The planting of her firm black bulk in its chair, and the grasp of her broad red hands on the gilt arms, bespoke an organized and self-reliant activity, accounted for by the fact that Mrs. Heeny was a "society" manicure and masseuse. Toward Mrs. Spragg and her daughter she filled the double role of manipulator and friend; and it was in the latter capacity that, her day's task ended, she had dropped in for a moment to "cheer up" the lonely ladies of the Stentorian.

The young girl whose "form" had won Mrs. Heeny's professional commendation suddenly shifted its lovely lines as she turned back from the window.

"Here - you can have it after all," she said, crumpling the note and tossing it with a contemptuous gesture into her mother's lap.

"Why - isn't it from Mr. Popple?" Mrs. Spragg exclaimed unguardedly.

"No - it isn't. What made you think I thought it was?" snapped her daughter; but the next instant she added, with an outbreak of childish disappointment: "It's only from Mr. Marvell's sister - at least she says she's his sister."

Mrs. Spragg, with a puzzled frown, groped for her eyeglass among the jet fringes of her tightly-girded front.

Mrs. Heeny's small blue eyes shot out sparks of curiosity. "Marvell - what Marvell is that?"

The girl explained languidly: "A little fellow - I think Mr. Popple said his name was Ralph"; while her mother continued: "Undine met them both last night at that party downstairs. And from something Mr. Popple said to her about going to one of the new plays, she thought -"

"How on earth do you know what I thought?" Undine flashed back, her grey eyes darting warnings at her mother under their straight black brows.

"Why, you said you thought -" Mrs. Spragg began reproachfully; but Mrs. Heeny, heedless of their bickerings, was pursuing her own train of thought.

"What Popple? Claud Walsingham Popple - the portrait painter?"

"Yes - I suppose so. He said he'd like to paint me. Mabel Lipscomb introduced him. I don't care if I never see him again," the girl said, bathed in angry pink.

"Do you know him, Mrs. Heeny?" Mrs. Spragg enquired.

"I should say I did. I manicured him for his first society portrait - a full-length of Mrs. Harmon B. Driscoll." Mrs. Heeny smiled indulgently on her hearers. "I know everybody. If they don't know me they ain't in it, and Claud Walsingham Popple's in it. But he ain't nearly as in it," she continued judicially, "as Ralph Marvell - the little fellow, as you call him."

Undine Spragg, at the word, swept round on the speaker with one of the quick turns that revealed her youthful flexibility. She was always doubling and twisting on herself, and every movement she made seemed to start at the nape of her neck, just below the lifted roll of reddish-gold hair, and flow without a break through her whole slim length to the tips of her fingers and the points of her slender restless feet.

"Why, do you know the Marvells? Are they stylish?" she asked.

Mrs. Heeny gave the discouraged gesture of a pedagogue who has vainly striven to implant the rudiments of knowledge in a rebellious mind.

"Why, Undine Spragg, I've told you all about them time and again! His mother was a Dagonet. They live with old Urban Dagonet down in Washington Square."

To Mrs. Spragg this conveyed even less than to her daughter. "'way down there? Why do they live with somebody else? Haven't they got the means to have a home of their own?"

Undine's perceptions were more rapid, and she fixed her eyes searchingly on Mrs. Heeny.

"Do you mean to say Mr. Marvell's as swell as Mr. Popple?"

"As swell? Why, Claud Walsingham Popple ain't in the same class with him!"

The girl was upon her mother with a spring, snatching and smoothing out the crumpled note.

"Laura Fairford - is that the sister's name?"

"Mrs. Henley Fairford; yes. What does she write about?"

Undine's face lit up as if a shaft of sunset had struck it through the triple-curtained windows of the Stentorian.

"She says she wants me to dine with her next Wednesday. Isn't it queer? Why does she want me? She's never seen me!" Her tone implied that she had long been accustomed to being "wanted" by those who had.

Mrs. Heeny laughed. "He saw you, didn't he?"

"Who? Ralph Marvell? Why, of course he did - Mr. Popple brought him to the party here last night."

"Well, there you are...When a young man in society wants to meet a girl again, he gets his sister to ask her."

Undine stared at her incredulously. "How queer! But they haven't all got sisters, have they? It must be fearfully poky for the ones that haven't."

"They get their mothers - or their married friends," said Mrs. Heeny omnisciently.

"Married gentlemen?" enquired Mrs. Spragg, slightly shocked, but genuinely desirous of mastering her lesson.

"Mercy, no! Married ladies."

"But are there never any gentlemen present?" pursued Mrs. Spragg, feeling that if this were the case Undine would certainly be disappointed.

"Present where? At their dinners? Of course - Mrs. Fairford gives the smartest little dinners in town. There was an account of one she gave last week in this morning's Town Talk: I guess it's right here among my clippings." Mrs. Heeny, swooping down on her bag, drew from it a handful of newspaper cuttings, which she spread on her ample lap and proceeded to sort with a moistened forefinger. "Here," she said, holding one of the slips at arm's length; and throwing back her head she read, in a slow unpunctuated chant:" 'Mrs. Henley Fairford gave another of her natty little dinners last Wednesday as usual it was smart small and exclusive and there was much gnashing of teeth among the left-outs as Madame Olga Loukowska gave some of her new steppe dances after dinner' - that's the French for new dance steps," Mrs. Heeny concluded, thrusting the documents back into her bag.

"Do you know Mrs. Fairford too?" Undine asked eagerly; while Mrs. Spragg, impressed, but anxious for facts, pursued: "Does she reside on Fifth Avenue?"

"No, she has a little house in Thirty-eighth Street, down beyond Park Avenue."

The ladies' faces drooped again, and the masseuse went on promptly: "But they're glad enough to have her in the big houses! - Why, yes, I know her," she said, addressing herself to Undine. "I mass'd her for a sprained ankle a couple of years ago. She's got a lovely manner, but no conversation. Some of my patients converse exquisitely," Mrs. Heeny added with discrimination.

Undine was brooding over the note. "It is written to mother - Mrs. Abner E. Spragg - I never saw anything so funny! 'Will you allow your daughter to dine with me?' Allow! Is Mrs. Fairford peculiar?"

"No - you are," said Mrs. Heeny bluntly. "Don't you know it's the thing in the best society to pretend that girls can't do anything without their mothers' permission? You just remember that, Undine. You mustn't accept invitations from gentlemen without you say you've got to ask your mother first."

"Mercy! But how'll mother know what to say?"

"Why, she'll say what you tell her to, of course. You'd better tell her you want to dine with Mrs. Fairford," Mrs. Heeny added humorously, as she gathered her waterproof together and stooped for her bag.

"Have I got to write the note, then?" Mrs. Spragg asked with rising agitation.

Mrs. Heeny reflected. "Why, no. I guess Undine can write it as if it was from you. Mrs. Fairford don't know your writing."

This was an evident relief to Mrs. Spragg, and as Undine swept to her room with the note her mother sank back, murmuring plaintively: "Oh, don't go yet, Mrs. Heeny. I haven't seen a human being all day, and I can't seem to find anything to say to that French maid."

Mrs. Heeny looked at her hostess with friendly compassion. She was well aware that she was the only bright spot on Mrs. Spragg's horizon. Since the Spraggs, some two years previously, had moved from Apex City to New York, they had made little progress in establishing relations with their new environment; and when, about four months earlier, Mrs. Spragg's doctor had called in Mrs. Heeny to minister professionally to his patient, he had done more for her spirit than for her body. Mrs. Heeny had had such "cases" before: she knew the rich helpless family, stranded in lonely splendour in a sumptuous West Side hotel, with a father compelled to seek a semblance of social life at the hotel bar, and a mother deprived of even this contact with her kind, and reduced to illness by boredom and inactivity. Poor Mrs. Spragg had done her own washing in her youth, but since her rising fortunes had made this occupation unsuitable she had sunk into the relative inertia which the ladies of Apex City regarded as one of the prerogatives of affluence. At Apex, however, she had belonged to a social club, and, until they moved to the Mealey House, had been kept busy by the incessant struggle with domestic cares; whereas New York seemed to offer no field for any form of lady-like activity. She therefore took her exercise vicariously, with Mrs. Heeny's help; and Mrs. Heeny knew how to manipulate her imagination as well as her muscles. It was Mrs. Heeny who peopled the solitude of the long ghostly days with lively anecdotes of the Van Degens, the Driscolls, the Chauncey Ellings and the other social potentates whose least doings Mrs. Spragg and Undine had followed from afar in the Apex papers, and who had come to seem so much more remote since only the width of the Central Park divided mother and daughter from their Olympian portals.

Mrs. Spragg had no ambition for herself - she seemed to have transferred her whole personality to her child but she was passionately resolved that Undine should have what she wanted, and she sometimes fancied that Mrs. Heeny, who crossed those sacred thresholds so familiarly, might some day gain admission for Undine.

"Well - I'll stay a little mite longer if you want; and supposing I was to rub up your nails while we're talking? It'll be more sociable," the masseuse suggested, lifting her bag to the table and covering its shiny onyx surface with bottles and polishers.

Mrs. Spragg consentingly slipped the rings from her small mottled hands. It was soothing to feel herself in Mrs. Heeny's grasp, and though she knew the attention would cost her three dollars she was secure in the sense that Abner wouldn't mind. It had been clear to Mrs. Spragg, ever since their rather precipitate departure from Apex City, that Abner was resolved not to mind - resolved at any cost to "see through" the New York adventure. It seemed likely now that the cost would be considerable. They had lived in New York for two years without any social benefit to their daughter; and it was of course for that purpose that they had come. If, at the time, there had been other and more pressing reasons, they were such as Mrs. Spragg and her husband never touched on, even in the gilded privacy of their bedroom at the Stentorian; and so completely had silence closed in on the subject that to Mrs. Spragg it had become non-existent: she really believed that, as Abner put it, they had left Apex because Undine was too big for the place.

She seemed as yet - poor child! - too small for New York: actually imperceptible to its heedless multitudes; and her mother trembled for the day when her invisibility should be borne in on her. Mrs. Spragg did not mind the long delay for herself - she had stores of lymphatic patience. But she had noticed lately that Undine was beginning to be nervous, and there was nothing that Undine's parents dreaded so much as her being nervous. Mrs. Spragg's maternal apprehensions unconsciously escaped in her next words.

"I do hope she'll quiet down now," she murmured, feeling quieter herself as her hand sank into Mrs. Heeny's roomy palm.

"Who's that? Undine?"

"Yes. She seemed so set on that Mr. Popple's coming round. From the way he acted last night she thought he'd be sure to come round this morning. She's so lonesome, poor child - I can't say as I blame her."

"Oh, he'll come round. Things don't happen as quick as that in New York," said Mrs. Heeny, driving her nail-polisher cheeringly.

Mrs. Spragg sighed again. "They don't appear to. They say New Yorkers are always in a hurry; but I can't say as they've hurried much to make our acquaintance."

Mrs. Heeny drew back to study the effect of her work. "You wait, Mrs. Spragg, you wait. If you go too fast you sometimes have to rip out the whole seam."

"Oh, that's so - that's so!" Mrs. Spragg exclaimed, with a tragic emphasis that made the masseuse glance up at her.

"Of course it's so. And it's more so in New York than anywhere. The wrong set's like fly-paper: once you're in it you can pull and pull, but you'll never get out of it again."

Undine's mother heaved another and more helpless sigh. "I wish you'd tell Undine that, Mrs. Heeny."

"Oh, I guess Undine's all right. A girl like her can afford to wait. And if young Marvell's really taken with her she'll have the run of the place in no time."

This solacing thought enabled Mrs. Spragg to yield herself unreservedly to Mrs.

Continues...

Continues...


Excerpted from The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton Copyright © 2004 by Edith Wharton. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Edith Wharton: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text
The Custom of the Country
Appendix A: Edith Wharton's Outline and Notes for The Custom of the Country
Appendix B: Edith Wharton's Correspondence about The Custom of the Country
Appendix C: From Edith Wharton's Autobiography, A Backward Glance (1933)
Appendix D: Contemporary Reviews
1. Nation reviewer, "The Custom of the Country" (1913)
2. L.M.F., "Mrs. Wharton's Novel: The Custom of the Country a Book Which Will Excite Much Discussion," New York Times Review of Books (1913)
3. Independent reviewer, "Customs of Two Countries" (1913)
4. Athenaeum reviewer, "Fiction" (1913)
5. From Frederic Taber Cooper, "The Custom of the Country," Bookman (1913)
6. From Henry James, "The Younger Generation," Times Literary Supplement (1914)
7. From James Huneker, "Three Disagreeable Girls," Forum (1915)
Appendix E: Women and Marriage
1. From Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, Undine (1811)
2. From Robert Grant, "The Art of Living, IX: The Case of Woman" (1895)
3. From Harold Frederic, The Damnation of Theron Ware or Illumination (1896)
4. Letter from Edith Wharton to John Hugh Smith (1909)
5. From Emma Goldman, "The Traffic in Women" (1910)
Appendix F: Competition and Consumerism
1. From Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species (1859)
2. From Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899)
3. From George Santayana, "Materialism and Idealism in American Life" (1920)
4. From Anita Loos, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1926)
Appendix G: Aestheticism
1. From Walter Pater, Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873)
2. From Harold Frederic, The Damnation of Theron Ware or Illumination (1896)
3. From Henry James, The American Scene (1907)
Select Bibliography

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Reading Group Guide

1. Some critics consider The Custom of the Country an epic tale, complete with a hero (in this case, a heroine) and various battles (that is, her marriages). Do you agree? What aspects make the novel epic? Which aspects refute this idea?

2. What do the novel’s descriptions of marriage and divorce tell us about Wharton’s views on the subject?

3. Are we to look at Undine as a sympathetic character? Consider women’s roles at the time of the novel. Was Undine forced to be the person she was?

4. In contrast to Wharton’s other New York—set novels, there is no dominant moral character in The Custom of the Country to oppose the selfish Undine. Why did Wharton let Undine go unchallenged? What is she saying about New York–and, by extension, American–society?

5. Wharton consistently presents Undine as monstrously acquisitive, yet Undine seems to get these characteristics from her father, who uses them in business. Does Wharton approve of these behaviors at all? What is she saying about the gender differences of the time? If Undine had been allowed to use these characteristics in business, would she be a different person in her personal life?

6. Do you think Wharton hates Undine? If she does, how does this affect the narrative?

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 17 of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2003

    Scathing!

    It's interesting to read how ruthless and unscrupulous people can be for their own self-preservation. Undine is a character I loved to hate. This novel could be a social commentary of life today. Fabulous vocabulary! It is a slow read, but worth it!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    Still relevant

    Timeless wisdom about women's issues in the society of consumerism as we see as the American Dream.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2012

    Excellent read.

    I was a literature major in college a long time ago: I'd never heard mention of this novel. She is such a fine author and this is my favorite of all! If you like her work, if you like American literature, you won't be disappointed.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Undine the terrible!

    Undine reminds me in a way of Scarlet O'Hara. The author lived at the same time period she placed the story and was divorced as well as the main character - so you have to wonder if this is an insight to how divorce was thought of in the different social groups as the time. Had some slow parts, but was a good read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2012

    Becomes a soap opera

    But a pretty good soap opera. The protagonist, Undine, can be a bit tiresome, but Wharton's handling of her life is pretty clever, especially at the end! I had never heard of this book before reading about it in a recent issue of the New Yorker. That writer said that it was very relevant to the Wall Street shenanigans, consumerism, and divorce in today's society. This claim is largely true, and the book is interesting in that regard.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2010

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 17 of 14 Customer Reviews

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