Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth (note: free on Kindle!) is an incredible novel that I can’t believe I never read up until now. Thankfully one of my book clubs was reading it this month so I downloaded it for free and read it from my phone in the middle of the night while nursing the baby.
Note: this is a bleak book, and reading it in the dark while you’re sleep deprived might heighten the tragic bits for you!
I’m tempted to call the book a tragedy, but really the sad downward spiral of a woman from the upper echelons of New York society down to the dregs was mostly the main character’s fault. That said, the book does a masterful job of exploring questions about how our upbringing contributes to our reactions and perceptions and ability to function in life. I found myself drawing lots of parallels to situations I’ve been a part of or observed. Not because I’m so tied in to the upper echelons of society, but because Wharton did such a marvelous job of nailing human nature in her characters.
The pace and character development in the novel are strikingly well done, and in hindsight I find it amazing that I never became annoyed at the main character, in spite of her alarming refusal to learn from her mistakes. The House of Mirth deserves its classic status, and I highly recommend it.
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