This is a blog about my reads as well as everything related to them.
My taste is for good quality literature - old and new. Some of it I review here or on my main book blog Edith's Miscellany.
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton tells the story of the social descent of Lily Bart, a beautiful woman of twenty-nine years who belongs to a distinguished New Yorker family. When the chronicle begins, both her parents have been dead for years and Lily, who has no money of her own to support herself, is staying with her wealthy widowed aunt Mrs. Peniston because no suitor seems good enough to her. Approaching thirty her choice of suitable bachelors is already diminishing like her youth, and yet the idea of depending on a husband doesn’t particularly thrill her. She senses that a marriage of convenience will bore her and unconsciously lets slip good opportunities that present themselves. She even risks being compromised on several occasions when she is seen coming from the flat or house of married or unmarried male friends where she had been alone with them without anything happening really. In addition, she smokes, gambles high and runs into debt. When she turns towards her (married) friend Gus Trenor for financial help, her fate is sealed. Lily gets caught in a downward spiral nurtured by intrigues and gossip from people who she considered as friends. Little by little she loses her position in the circles of the old rich and is forced to work for her living although her education hasn’t equipped her with any useful skills for that purpose. Her reputation as ruined as her finances and her chances for a good match, Lily is even tempted to blackmail a former friend who betrayed her husband at one point and cuts her, but then she burns the compromising letters.
Times have changed in many respects, but certainly not in all. In our modern consumer society appearances are still as important as they were a hundred years ago. Those of us who fail or don’t fit in are dropped and left to themselves like Lily is. Also intrigues and gossip are part of our daily lives. If we like it or not, people haven’t changed that much after all and that is what make Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth is surprisingly modern. I enjoyed the read.