Monday, September 12, 2011

Read free novels online: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

The House of MirthThe House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I actually didn't read the book but watched the film. Unfortunately, I am not inclined to appreciate very sad endings. I hate it that she chose to do the right thing, like not marry for money but she was not rewarded for it. She ended up poor and died. I don't think this will serve as an inspiration for women to do the right thing.

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This edition of Wharton's classic novel presents the standard text of the 1905 Scribner's edition along with five critical essays- newly revised for a student audience. Each critical essay is accompanied by a succinct introduction to the history, principles, and practice of the critical perspective and a bibliography that promotes further exploration of that approach.

Book Summary
The House of Mirth tells the story of Lily Bart, a woman who is torn between her desire for luxurious living and a relationship based on mutual respect and love. She sabotages all her possible chances for a wealthy marriage, loses the good opinion of her social circle, and dies young, poor, and alone.

Lily is initially of good social standing and rejects several offers of advantageous marriage. Lily then damages that good standing by accepting an invitation to Lawrence Selden's private rooms. Lily's social standing erodes further when her friend Judy Trenor's husband Gus gives Lily a large sum of money. Lily innocently accepts the money, believing that it is the return on investments he supposedly made for her. The rumors of this transaction, and of her mysterious visit to Gus in his city residence crack her social standing.

To escape the rumors and gossip, she accepts an invitation from Bertha Dorset to join her and her husband, George, on a cruise of Europe aboard their yacht the Sabrina. Unfortunately, while aboard the yacht Bertha accuses Lily of adultery with George to move societal attention from Bertha's own infidelity with the poet Ned Silverton. Lily has the option of saving herself by publishing evidence of an affair between Bertha and Selden, but abstains for sake of Selden's reputation. The ensuing scandal ruins Lily, leading her Aunt Peniston to disinherit her.

Lily descends the social strata, working as a personal secretary until Bertha sabotages her position by turning her employers against her. Lily then takes a job as social secretary for a disreputable woman, but resigns after Selden comes to rescue her from complete infamy. She then works in a millinery, but produces poorly and is let go at the end of the season. Simon Rosedale, the Jewish suitor who had proposed marriage to her when she was higher on the social scale tries to rescue her, but she is unwilling to meet his terms: use love letters between Bertha Dorset and Selden that have come into her possession. Eventually, she receives her $10,000 inheritance which she uses to pay her debt to Trenors. Lily dies from an overdose of the sleeping draught to which she had become addicted. (from wikipedia)

About the Author
Edith Newbold Jones was born into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." The youngest of three children, Edith spent her early years touring Europe with her parents and, upon the family's return to the United States, enjoyed a privileged childhood in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. Edith's creativity and talent soon became obvious: By the age of eighteen she had written a novella, (as well as witty reviews of it) and published poetry in the Atlantic Monthly.

After a failed engagement, Edith married a wealthy sportsman, Edward Wharton. Despite similar backgrounds and a shared taste for travel, the marriage was not a success. Many of Wharton's novels chronicle unhappy marriages, in which the demands of love and vocation often conflict with the expectations of society. Wharton's first major novel, The House of Mirth, published in 1905, enjoyed considerable literary success. Ethan Frome appeared six years later, solidifying Wharton's reputation as an important novelist. Often in the company of her close friend, Henry James, Wharton mingled with some of the most famous writers and artists of the day, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, André Gide, Sinclair Lewis, Jean Cocteau, and Jack London.

In 1913 Edith divorced Edward. She lived mostly in France for the remainder of her life. When World War I broke out, she organized hostels for refugees, worked as a fund-raiser, and wrote for American publications from battlefield frontlines. She was awarded the French Legion of Honor for her courage and distinguished work.

The Age of Innocence, a novel about New York in the 1870s, earned Wharton the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1921 -- the first time the award had been bestowed upon a woman. Wharton traveled throughout Europe to encourage young authors. She also continued to write, lying in her bed every morning, as she had always done, dropping each newly penned page on the floor to be collected and arranged when she was finished. Wharton suffered a stroke and died on August 11, 1937. She is buried in the American Cemetery in Versailles, France. (from

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