The House of Mirth, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Since its publication in 1905 The House of Mirth has commanded attention for the sharpness of Wharton's observations and the power of her style. Its heroine, Lily Bart, is beautiful, poor, and unmarried at 29. In her search for a husband with money and position she betrays her own heart and sows the seeds of the tragedy that finally overwhelms her.

The House of Mirth is a lucid, disturbing analysis of the stifling limitations imposed upon women of Wharton's generation. Herself born into Old New York Society, Wharton watched as an entirely new set of people living by new codes of conduct entered the metropolitan scene. In telling the story of Lily Bart, who must marry to survive, Wharton recasts the age-old themes of family, marriage, and money in ways that transform the traditional novel of manners into an arresting modern document of cultural anthropology.

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780199538102

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

The House of Mirth is about Lily Bart, a socialite in early 20th century New York, that lives richly when she is in fact poor. By the time the book starts, she has been on the marriage market for ten years, not having yet landed the husband that will allow her have the luxuries she requires. However, in spite of her famous beauty, Lily always seems unable to close the deal. Struggling between the values and skills she was raised to have and what she really wants, Lily can't commit to any one life, which makes it difficult for her to accomplish anything that makes her happy.The House of Mirth is a very good book. It suffers from the usual flaws reading Wharton a century after it was written: it's melodramatic in places and it's hard at times to understand and identify with the bizarre social rules her characters live by. Having said that, the story and characters Wharton creates are timeless, insightful, and engaging. The point the author makes about Lily's sad life is interesting and says something about both the lot of women in Edwardian society and how one's upbringing can be at odds with one's real wishes. The House of Mirth only received four stars from me rather than five as Ethan Frome and The Age of Innocence did merely for its length: at 400 or so pages the novel isn't inordinately long, but Wharton could have wrapped things up a little more quickly and made a bigger impact.

Review by

I really enjoyed Edith Wharton's writing, but this book was a bit long and slow in parts. Would be a good book to discuss at book club. Can't say much else or I'll give the ending away.

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