Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Age of Innocence (1921) - Reviewed By Monique

Rating: 4 out of 5 Books
Pages: 270
Genre: Adult (Classic)
Series: No
Publication Date: 1920

Synopsis (From Back of Cover):
Newland Archer saw little to envy in the marriages of his friends. yet he prided himself that in the tender and impressionable May Welland he had found the companion of his needs. The engagement was announced discreetly, but all of New York society was soon privy to this most prefect match, a union of families and circumstance cemented by affection.

Enter Countess Olenska, a woman not afraid to flount convention and determined to find freedom in divorce. Newland, though drawn to the socially ostracized Ellen Olenska, knows that in sweet-tempered May he can expect stability and the steadying comfort of duty. But what new worlds could he discover with Ellen? Written with elegance and wry precision, Edith Wharton's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece is a tragic love story and a powerful homily about the perils of a prefect marriage.
After reading The Age of Innocence I can understand why it is considered a classic. The writing is excellent. It is elegant. But since this book was written of 80 years ago, it makes it harder to read. In fact it was slow going. It wasn't that Wharton used words unfamiliar to me but the style made me slow down and absorb what was being written and going on.

I am going to say that this is a character based novel. While not as in depth John Steinbeck's East of Eden, the characters (mainly Archer and Olenska) take center stage. I would love to say that I really felt in touch with the characters and that I loved them but I was rather indifferent to them. Maybe because this is a story about old New York society and it's inhabitants and I just couldn't wait. But Wharton does put a lot of emphasis of making sure the reader knows and understands the characters and there actions.

The plot of the books was familiar but excellently done. Basically it is a story about "forbidden love" and the chooses people make in their lives and how those chooses affect them later. I am not going to give the story way but I did enjoy getting to take a glimpse into the varies rules of old New York and how they dictates ones actions and decisions.

Pros: Writing, Characters, Plot, History
Cons: Slow read

Overall Recommendation:

I want to give this novel a great write up but I don't know how to express who much I enjoyed the book. I enjoyed it more for the writing than anything else. For you want to read a well written story than this is it. But if you are looking for action or drama, than skip it.

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