Tag Archives: Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton, “The Custom of the Country”

It took Jonathan Franzen to draw my attention to the symmetry among the titles of Edith Wharton’s three big New York society novels: The House of Mirth, The Custom of the Country, and The Age of Innocence.  Franzen also tries … Continue reading

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Beth Gutcheon, “Gossip”

Oh, heaven — a Beth Gutcheon novel narrated by a woman who runs a Madison Avenue boutique. I really don’t think there’s a writer working today who is as good on women’s clothes as Gutcheon: not just what they look … Continue reading

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Edith Wharton, “Old New York”

When I was talking to Pat Ryan of the New York Times about this wonderful piece in that newspaper (commemorating Mrs. Wharton’s 150th birthday on January 24), I remembered Wharton’s marvelous series of novellas called Old New York, and realized I … Continue reading

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Amor Towles, “Rules of Civility”

I spend a lot of time thinking about story-telling, because that’s what I do for a living. My interest, retro though it increasingly seems, is pretty narrowly confined to the novel, as readers here know. As I’m reading, I’m also … Continue reading

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Steve Martin, “An Object of Beauty”

An Object of Beauty should have been right up my alley — who wouldn’t like a fable about the contemporary art market? Complete with full-color reproductions of artworks and an ambitious girl heroine? Scenes of auctions, galleries, and art-buying jaunts to … Continue reading

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Daisy Goodwin, “The American Heiress”/”My Last Duchess”

The late-19th-century cultural phenomenon of American heiresses marrying into the English aristocracy has attracted literary attention from the moment it began: Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady was published in 1880, a mere six years after the foundational match between … Continue reading

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Edith Wharton, “The Age of Innocence”

I went back to this to see how Wharton managed to write a novel about a doomed passion and thwarted sexual attraction without ever betraying the decorum in which the characters lived. And having read The Age of Innocence this … Continue reading

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