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The Age of Innocence

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  103,844 Ratings  ·  4,471 Reviews
Newland Archer and May Welland have just announced their engagement to New York society, and the match seems perfect -- until Archer meets Countess Olenska, a sharp, beautiful woman in the midst of a divorce . . . it's for good reason this book won Edith Wharton Pulitzer Prize. "Is it -- in this world -- vulgar to ask for more? To entreat a little wildness, a dark place or ...more
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Aegypan (first published 1920)
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Jaie It depends on what you consider "clean". This is a complex book about social constraints, demands and duty vs feelings and desires, I would not advice…moreIt depends on what you consider "clean". This is a complex book about social constraints, demands and duty vs feelings and desires, I would not advice it for kids under 15, mainly because I presume it would not be of interest to them. Also, keep in mind that Romeo and Juliet is a classic taught in 9th grade, and it depicts teen sex and suicide. (less)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Emily May
May 17, 2015 Emily May rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, favourites
“We can't behave like people in novels, though, can we?”

A few years ago, I read The Age of Innocence and thought it was okay. It has something of an Austen-esque feel - criticisms of middle/upper middle class society, paired with a subtle and clever humour and a love story (here deliciously scandalous). But it's taken me a few years to come back to this novel and appreciate the magic Wharton has brought to the table.

This little book is so clever. Everything about it from the damn title to nea
...more
Amanda
Apr 20, 2011 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kick-ass, blog
Part of why I love The Age of Innocence so much is for the very reason my students hate it--the subtlety of action in a society constrained by its own ridiculous rules and mores. In Old New York, conformity is key and the upper-crust go about a life of ritual that has no substance or meaning. Both men and women are victims in this world as both are denied economic, intellectual, and creative outlets. All the world's a stage in Wharton's New York and everyone wears a mask of society's creation. S ...more
Paul Bryant
May 31, 2011 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Yes indeedy, what could be more jejune than another early 20th century novelist choosing as her subject the problematic relations between the sexes amongst the idle rich? D H Lawrence and Henry James do the same, the first like a big dog gnawing at a bone and finding something it mistakes for God in the marrow, and the latter in his infinite cheeseparings putting the whole thing into the form of a three-dimensional chess game played by sardonic French subatomic particle physicists who you suspec ...more
Jr Bacdayan
Aug 18, 2015 Jr Bacdayan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Each time you happen to me all over again.”

Imagine that person you love most in this world, right within your grasp, but somehow out of reach. An invisible thin wall keeping you apart. Apart but not away from each other. Together yet not with each other. This is the worst form of torture, a torture of invisible chains and soundless screams. Constantly seeing each other, constantly being reminded of what cannot be. Constantly falling in love yet constantly falling apart. The urge, the love, the
...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Mar 14, 2014 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody comes to mind...
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Pulitzer for fiction 1921
Heading for a hospital stay I decided to treat myself to a pleasant historical novel with a dash of romance. BIG mistake, if this is romantic take me to the nunnery….Okay, the ugliness of the story is offset by the beauty of the writing, and it is gorgeous, I'd read this author again - but still. This isn’t so much a review as an attempt to purge this pile of hooey from my subconscious.
1st off the main protagonist Newland Archer is a celebration of hypocrisy. A man who makes a CLEAR choice (vie
...more
Shovelmonkey1
Dec 04, 2013 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Before writing this review I decided to find out a bit more about Edith Wharton. Turns out that she is actually a lot more interesting than some of her books. If you turn to the Wikipedia page (not exactly hardcore research, I know but I'm not in a position to march off to the library and start wading through Wharton's presumably numerous biographies) you'll be faced with a picture of a timid and pretty dour looking lady with two disagreeable looking Paris-Hilton porta-dogs plonked on her knee. ...more
Cheryl
Feb 14, 2016 Cheryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of life
The air of ideas is the only air worth breathing.

Just when I think a classic unlikely to give me pause, it surprises me with relatable themes. After reading Wharton's short story, "The Muse's Tragedy" (one of the supplemental reads I'll be teaching this Fall), I knew I had to visit one of her longer forms. So rewarding it was, to be wooed by elegant prose and positioning; a plot that moves in practiced laps; a story that could be yours, mine, theirs; a setting that will always be known for bot
...more
KOHEY.Y.
Dec 07, 2015 KOHEY.Y. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know that this novel has been played often by Takarazuka Ballet,the all-female Japanese musical theater troupe,so it must be more of a sugary,insipid typical love triangle.Yes,it is a love story,but it is much more than that.

The main plot is a tragic love story,but with the conflict of values and ethics in life and society.I'd say this is the strong and beautiful point of this classic.Through the culture clash between Europe and America (here I mean New York),and the rise and fall of the then
...more
Catie
Nov 23, 2011 Catie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Catie by: Jo
The title of this book is now one of my favorites of all time. At first glance, it seems so dry, so suggestive of sweeping historical detail. It made me think of the fond memories of an age gone by – how quaint, how rosy-hued and idealistic it all was. Summoning the vague ideas that I had about 1920’s New York, I pictured smoky clubs and laughing ladies in fur-lined cloaks and peacock feather hats.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever come across another title so seemingly innocuous, yet so absolutely loa
...more
Henry Avila
May 18, 2014 Henry Avila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Newland Archer, has the perfect life, rich , young, and good looking, a member in excellent standing, of the New York High Society of 1871, during the Golden Age. These people feel not like prisoners but brave members of a group, keeping back the barbarians at the gate. Newland is engaged to a beautiful, charming girl, May Welland, also in the exclusive association, who loves him. But then her cousin arrives, from Europe, Countess Ellen Olenska, married to a brute, a Polish nobleman, who repeate ...more
Mary
Jun 25, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2012
This was the first book I've read from Edith Wharton and it was better than I was expecting. The images of 1870's New York are rich and chilling and it's central theme so relevant and relatable.

Newland Archer aches with the constraints of his time and the absurdity and hypocrisy of the society in which he lives. He longs to break free and yet ultimately lives a life of quiet remorse. It struck me just how little has changed in that regard. Most people still fall into a conventional life simply
...more
Paul
Oct 23, 2013 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book and seem to be developing a penchant for reading books which drift along in a sedate way and in which not much appears (on the surface) to happen. Appearances are deceptive though and Wharton’s prose is beautiful and the dialogue sharp, and with depth of meaning.
The novel is set in high society New York in the 1870s; a social milieu where convention reigned on the surface, but where some of the men had slightly scandalous secrets. Newland Archer and May Welland and about to be
...more
Mike Puma
“The immense accretion of flesh which had descended on her in middle life like a flood of lava on a doomed city had changed her from a plump active little woman with a neatly-turned foot and ankle into something as vast and august as a natural phenomenon.” Does writing get any finer than that?

And some say:
A) the Edith Wharton is boring, while others say...
B) she had no sense of humor.

I'd say: She was behind me at the grocery store today and saw the same thing I saw.
Phrynne
Beautifully written of course but not an especially interesting story. Newman Archer is actually a very unlikeable person although obviously a symptom of the society in which he was raised. I felt sorry for all of them because in the end no one was really happy. A bit depressing really. I do like the way Edith Wharton writes but sadly this book did not really do it for me.
Apatt
Nov 16, 2015 Apatt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
“The longing was with him day and night, an incessant undefinable craving, like the sudden whim of a sick man for food or drink once tasted and long since forgotten. He could not see beyond the craving, or picture what it might lead to, for he was not conscious of any wish to speak to Madame Olenska or to hear her voice. He simply felt that if he could carry away the vision of the spot of earth she walked on, and the way the sky and sea enclosed it, the rest of the world might seem less empty.”
...more
Perry
Jun 23, 2016 Perry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amados-libros
First reading of both Edith Wharton and The Age of Innocence. Speechless.

Pondering as I listen to Alice Cooper's only pop song, a real sudser.

"Take away, take away my eyes
Sometimes I'd rather be blind
Break a heart, break a heart of stone
Open it up but don't you leave it alone...
*** But you know, I never cry."
Alice Cooper, I Never Cry, 1976

Review forthcoming.
Mona
Jul 21, 2015 Mona rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tragic Tale of a Man Suffocated by Convention in 1870s New York



Newland Archer, a promising young lawyer growing up in the cream of New York society, is engaged to May Welland. Everyone around him considers this to be a brilliant match.

Except that May's cousin, Ellen Olenska, arrives from Europe, and Newland finds himself drawn to Ellen. Ellen, a native New Yorker, is fleeing a bad marriage abroad. She is beautiful, kind, and entirely unpretentious.

Newland, though, is trapped in what is expected
...more
Darwin8u
May 29, 2016 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“In reality they all lived in a kind of hieroglyphic world, where the real thing was never said or done or even thought, but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs.”
― Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

description

A masterpiece of literary construction. There doesn't seem to be a word, sentence, or page out of place. At its core, 'The Age of Innocence' is story that shows the strength and the orchestrated customs and mores of social upper-class society of the 1870s, but also shows its narrowness, its
...more
Sidharth Vardhan
“The real loneliness is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretend!”


I’m not much into romantic stories – I mean how much of ‘Ellen, I love you’ and ‘Newland, it is wrong’ one can bear? More so, love triangles – and why they call it love triangles. Just look at this one – Archer has relations with May and Ellen but the two women do not love each other, so where is the third side of triangle? Shouldn’t it be called love angle or love V. In fact, if you think about it, a love
...more
Hana
Into the grand, placidly self-satisfied world of New York Society in the 1870s comes a near-outsider, a woman born to an acceptable family but raised in Europe by an eccentric peripatetic aunt and now rumored to be estranged from her husband, a wealthy Polish count. Like a stone tossed into a still pond, Countess Ellen Olenska's arrival will send ripples across the silvery surface, moving ever outwards, while far below something deeper may stir and change.

"There was something perverse and provoc
...more
Kim
Dec 19, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook

Mostly I finish books I start, but when I first tried reading this novel twenty-five to thirty years ago, I don't think I made it past page five. I have a vague memory of seeing the film adaptation back in the 1990s, but it clearly didn't inspire me to return to the novel. So I'm not sure what made me decide to acquire and listen to the audiobook so many years later. However, I'm glad I did.

I knew that Wharton had written a novel critical of the world from which she sprang - late 19th century N
...more
Matthew
Jan 05, 2008 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a gorgeous book with some great characters and a special ambience that I haven't experienced in any other novel. Edith Wharton takes the reader deep inside the strange little world of upper-class late 19th century New York, detailing the manners, the attitudes, the rules, the institutionalized hypocrisy, the spectacular beauty and superficiality, and most of all, the lies that everyone must tell themselves and those around them to survive in a tightly regimented culture that has just bar ...more
Anne
"He simply felt that if he could carry away the vision of the spot of earth she walked on, and the way the sky and sea enclosed it, the rest of the world might seem less empty."



I believe that the best kind of books are those which one does not expect to fall in love with, but undeniably do. You know, the ones that have been sitting on the shelf for ages and that you just finally pick up on a whim, having no idea what to expect but thinking you might enjoy it? Then you start it and all of a sudde
...more
Glenn Sumi
A masterpiece.

Newland Archer, a young lawyer, is engaged to be married to May Welland, a sweet but (he soon comes to realize) rather limited girl. Their two families are prominent ones in 1870s Manhattan so everything is as it should be. And then Archer meets Countess Ellen Olenska, a childhood sweetheart and May's cousin, who is back in NYC after fleeing a disastrous marriage in Europe. She is unconventional, beautiful, and shares Newland's interest in art and books. Can you guess what happens
...more
Darcy
Mar 09, 2009 Darcy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Zanna
Feb 10, 2016 Zanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second Wharton and I'm glad I came back. This window on the elite society of 1870s' New York City from the vantage point of 1920 combines a very finely textured ambiance and naturalism that make it a convincing portrait of a milieu of the moment, with a fresh, tidily ornamented prose and modern sensibility that completely eschews the ponderous and (to me) irritating convolutions of much 19th century writing (especially the North American style, which grates on me so badly I can't face ...more
Connie
3.5 stars
Edith Wharton shows us the world of the upper class in 1870's New York. This elite group had very rigid rules of behavior, social rituals, fashion, and entertaining. There is an element of hypocrisy that existed in some of its members behind their conservative moral exterior.

Newland Archer, a wealthy young lawyer, is engaged to May, an innocent young woman who follows society's moral code. But Newland is very attracted to May's cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska, who has separated from her
...more
Madeline
Nov 27, 2012 Madeline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-list
It's time to get something off my chest, guys: I love Gossip Girl.

But Madeline! you exclaim, probably choking on a biscuit and dropping your teacup because you are one refined gentleman or lady, didn't you write a scathing review of the first Gossip Girl back in 2008 where you ranked it below goddamn Twilight on the scale of Books That Should Not Be Considered Books?

Ah yes, my little blueberries, how right you are. Gossip Girl, the book, is pulpy badly-written trash that fails to even fulfill th
...more
Fenia
Nov 05, 2014 Fenia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another book finished in one day. (Am I a book machine or what?) Another marvellous classic. Loved it!! Though I would have preferred a happy ending. But we can't have it all,can we? Anyway,brilliant book. "Each time you happen to me all over again." this quote is..WOW. i can't even express my admiration for this quote.
وضحى
Aug 29, 2015 وضحى rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
يا لها من رواية! وكأنها تواكب رواية إيزابيل ألليندي "ابنة الحظ" التي حاولت في أغلب صفحاتها تناول الساحل الغربي من أمريكا الحلم والبوابة الذهبية كما فعلت هذه بالساحل الشرقي!
تغرقنا إيدث وارتون بوصفها الذي لا يتخاذل حتى عن صغائر الأمور في تفاصيل الحياة المترفة للطبقة البرجوازية في نيويورك في سبعينيات القرن التاسع عشر وأثناء الحقبة المسماة بالعصر المذهّب أو قِلْددْ إيج. Gilded age بين و
هذه الحقبة التي ترتفع سريعاً فيها أغلب العوائل النبيلة على طبق من بذخ تبرع وارتون في رسمه لنا كدقة الرسام الفرنسي
...more
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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 a ...more
More about Edith Wharton...

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“Each time you happen to me all over again.” 488 likes
“The real loneliness is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretend!” 387 likes
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