Tuesday, January 18, 2011
The Age of Innocence
Barnes and Noble, 1920
Thoughts: I put this on my list because I wanted to read the first Pulitzer winning-novel by a woman; after enjoying Old New York, a collection of four short stories, I had high hopes for this. And they were mostly fulfilled.
I loved the pictures painted by Wharton; every detail seemed carefully chosen to convey the taste and wealth of the characters although I'm sure I didn't fully appreciate those details, given my 21st century sensibilities and understanding. I loved being enmeshed in that world and slowly journeying through it toward completion.
The part I didn't like was the character Newland Archer. He is torn between duty to his fiancee May Welland and passion for her cousin, the scandalous Countess Ellen Olenska who left her husband. I was caught up in that and I supported his choice. But I hated his musings on the innocence and conventionality of May-how was she to be different? I think that he is a stand-in for Wharton who was raised in that kind of environment but obviously had a sharp intellect of her own. Over the course of the novel though, I grew annoyed with him. I did not want to spend as much time with him as I did; I think I would have preferred this novel from a female point of view because Archer grated on me.
I would also like to see the movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer (j'adore her), and Winona Ryder.
Overall: Beautifully written; I definitely consider myself a fan of Wharton now.
Cover: Pretty gallery-I'm a big fan of the Barnes and Noble editions.