The Age of Innocence, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Set in turn-of-the-century New York, Edith Wharton's classic novel The Age of Innocence reveals a society governed by the dictates of taste and form, manners and morals, and intricate social ceremonies.

Newland Archer, soon to marry the lovely May Welland, is a man torn between his respect for tradition and family and his attraction to May's strongly independent cousin, the Countess Ellen Olenska.

Plagued by the desire to live in a world where two people can love each other free from condemnation and judgment by the group, Newland views the artful delicacy of the world he lives in as a comforting security one moment, and at another, as an oppressive fiction masking true human nature. The Age of Innocence is at once a richly drawn portrait of the elegant lifestyles, luxurious brownstones, and fascinating culture of bygone New York society and a compelling look at the conflict between human passions and the social tribe that tries to control them.


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Good, but I still think it would have been so much better if the book had been told in Ellen's point of view. I always enjoy Wharton's careful satire of a society she knew very well and her depiction of the constraints placed on women is heartbreaking, as it is in all her novels. Archer is an unlikeable narrator with flaws I can't empathize with (as opposed to Lily or Undine in Wharton's other books). A bit frustrated. I really like the epilogue, though.

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