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The Fruit of the Tree

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  193 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
EDITH WHARTON (1862-1937) was one of the most remarkable women of her time, and her immense commercial and critical success--most notably with her novel "The Age of Innocense" (1920), which won a Pulitzer Prize. Her other novels, including "The Fruit of the Tree," remain fascinating portraits of an earlier time.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published by (first published 1907)
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Jan 24, 2017 Cynthia rated it really liked it
Set in an eastern mill town Fruit of the Tree is another book about the struggles of workers and how the owners I.e. The upper classes choose to exploit the workers or reform management of the mill. There's an emotionally stunted young man who Wharton takes to task through the ministration of the much, much wiser women around him. Since this theme appears in much of Wharton it feels belabored appearing in yet another of her books and, as is often the case, things become overwrought AND as is oft ...more
Mar 10, 2011 Dawn rated it liked it
This was my first real Wharton (besides Ethan Frome and Bunner Sisters, two relatively short works). Gotta say I was impressed. It's so nice to follow early Woolf (Night & Day) with a minor Wharton. They work in different, almost oppositional, ways.

Woolf knits these complex inner thoughts that hit the surface of a character in oblique indeterminate actions. Characters like Mary and Catherine seem 'compelled' by a matrix of psychologies they don't quite grasp, making the things they do/say se
This is a little-known, unusual, and fascinating Wharton. She's more generally known for her books about New York and European high society, yet here she chooses a mill town for her setting and creates a love triangle among the poor, radical assistant manager of the mill, a high-minded nurse, and a charming but shallow upper-class widow. As always, Wharton observes her characters sharply, especially Justine, the nurse, who is determined to have a life and a career for herself, to break out of th ...more
Jun 16, 2017 Andie rated it really liked it
This is definitely NOT a typical Edith Wharton novel. Instead of the foibles of the aristocracy of New York Cit, we have a book that is part a muckraking polemic on the evils of manufacturing and part lurid love story laced with adultery, drug addiction and euthanasia. Quite the topics for 1907!

John Amherst, the reform-minded assistant manager at the Hanaford textile mills, meets trained nurse Justine Brent at the hospital bedside of Dillon, an injured mill worker. They agree that Dillon would b
Perry Whitford
Feb 23, 2015 Perry Whitford rated it really liked it
A compassionate young nurse and a factory manager committed to improving conditions for the workers find themselves in sympathy with each other from their first meeting, though their unconventional convictions will be put the test by tragedy and fate.

The nurse is Justine Brent, a competent and beautiful woman who won't compromise her career to marry into money. The factory manager is John Amherst, who does marry into money, hoping to persuade his young heiress wife into allowing him to carry out
Jul 10, 2016 Victoria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am a big Edith Wharton fan. I can only think of one of her novels that I disliked more than this one. About 1/3 in I almost stopped reading it. It's not because of the way it's written. It's because of the characters and the plot. I absolutely loathe John Amherst, the main male character. At the very end, I was hoping his wife (who could have done so much better) would destroy his self-serving lie and leave him. He was a zealot. He was pompous, holier than thou, massively self-absorbed despite ...more
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
This may be nearly one of the last Edith Wharton novels that I had not yet read. This was, all in all, a fascinating novel too. It is much more of a 'social conditions' novel than many that Wharton has written; as it describes the working conditions in the clothing mills in New England in the late-19th century. Wharton also spends much of the novel dealing with the issue of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. I need to go back to Hermione Lee's great biography and see if I can ferret out ...more
Oct 07, 2013 Lucy rated it it was amazing
I started this months ago, and put aside because it felt like a cheap 'nurse romance'. But I hate to be beaten by a book, so took it up again, and the Wharton magic worked. She has the knack of creating real people, a beautiful hand for descriptions of the natural world - and an unrelentingly bleak outlook on human behaviour. Don't expect any unalloyed happiness here. Once you're in it, though, it's unputdownable. Oh, and coming fresh from Ethan Frome, it's nice to see you can coast downhill saf ...more
Christopher Sutch
Feb 22, 2010 Christopher Sutch rated it really liked it
Though the characterizations are sometimes heavy-handed and the plot sometimes relies on the constraints of formula, this book has much of Wharton's flair for intricate psychological insights and memorable scenes. It's made more interesting for me by the strong theme of labor rights and the almost Marxist-socialist view she takes of labor relations (though situated firmly from an upperclass POV). Also interesting are the themes of euthanasia and drug abuse. Certainly a book that more Wharton fan ...more
someone spelled Innocence wrong in the blurb.
i read a couple of chapters before realizing i read this book years ago. enjoyed it nonetheless.
Cherry Potts
I couldn't finish this, it started well, but even by skipping bits I got ground down but the level of detail. I usually love Wharton but this is just unremitting, I stopped caring.
Oct 02, 2010 Dave rated it liked it
Shelves: literature, fiction
“The Fruit of the Tree” by Edith Wharton is well written, but falls short of her previous effort “The House of Mirth”. Published originally on October 19th of 1907, it is split into four books. The novel touches on social progress in the form of improvements for the working class, and then moves into an interesting ethical situation when it comes to the idea of euthanasia. The last part is the most interesting part of the book for me, and it is amazing to see how little the discussion has change ...more
Sep 07, 2008 Isil rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: litterature, xixe, usa
D’abord, je m’attendais à un roman un peu social comme l’annonçait la quatrième de couverture mais ce n’est que très vaguement évoqué au tout début. Les ouvriers des usines, on ne les voit pas. Presque tout se passe justement chez des gens qui ne veulent pas qu’on leur rappelle que leurs profits sont liés à la vie d’autres personnes. Certes, c’est bien fait, on comprend bien de quelle façon cette bourgeoisie propriétaire des usines (mais ne les dirigeant pas) ne fait jamais de drame (quand les v ...more
Sep 06, 2015 Umi rated it liked it
'The genius of history, capriciously directing the antics of its marionettes, sometimes let's the drama languish through a series of unrelated episodes, and then, suddenly quickening the pace, packs into one scene the stuff of a dozen.'

Easily the best passage of the novel, a shame it didn't pack the punch here promised. By a means I should have liked this book, I started it at the right time of year for me to be getting nostalgic about leaves changing in mill towns, but somehow I just couldn't g
Jun 05, 2016 Rdt rated it really liked it
This may not be my favorite Edith Wharton book, but it is up there near the top. In this book Wharton moves a step away from her customary setting of New York high society and small New England towns to focus on the industrial bourgeoisie and progressive industrial reformers. It's more the world of Sinclair Lewis or Theodore Dreiser than the one that we customarily associate with Wharton, but Wharton makes it her own. The leading characters here are are smart people who have good intentions and ...more
Maddy Hutter
May 09, 2014 Maddy Hutter rated it really liked it
If Edith Wharton wrote it, I am reading (or listening to it) this year. This one leaves high society for the workings of a mill and the need for improved working conditions for the "operatives". The protagonists are a socially aware but poor mill manager, an earnest nurse, and a good-natured but shallow young widow. As the plot weaves these three through a fairly convoluted love triangle, Wharton examines gender roles (yes, again.), labor reform, euthanasia, social conventions, and the difficult ...more
This review is one that I dread writing. I really did enjoy this book, but I have so much to say against it.

The main reason I enjoyed this book was the eloquent writing style Edith Wharton employs. I often prefer older works over newer ones for that reason. I enjoyed the way the dialogue was written, even the dialogue itself annoyed me.

The plot line dragged on and on, making the completion of this book was a real feat. I did not like any of the characters in this book for very long. Every one w
Jan 27, 2015 Z rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook, librivox
Topics are as fresh today as they were then. Painfully sad but compellingly written. Loved having a female author write about workplace safety; what courage and confidence! This is also about power struggles-more than a euthanasia discussion is the idea of pushing medical care for the success of the physician's professional career and in the name of science.

Wharton's ability to weave characters in and out of her story is smooth and believable. With so many books feeling like they've been done so
Well, this took some time to get through. In this novel, Wharton sets out to explore a plethora of moral and societal issues. She does so successfully, I think, as it encouraged me to think about the issues and form my own opinions. However, it does make the book a bit long-winded and challenging to get through. I'm ultimately glad I finishied it, however. It is well written and has several interesting and well fleshed-out characters.
Jul 23, 2007 Larissa rated it really liked it
book she wrote after "house of mirth." re idealistic young gentleman who lives with the workers, the conditions in new england mill, and the two ladies, one high and one come down in the world, he gets tangled up with. kind of a potboiler, yr less absorbed in the psychologies than "house of mirth" but it's a bigger, looser story close to george eliot maybe. the class-struggle ones like "holt the radical." i like it.

oh god. it's a tough one. nobody wins.
Sep 06, 2007 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was inspired to buy this book while visiting The Mount in Lenox, MA recently, the former estate of Edith Wharton. As part of the tour we got to see some vignettes from this book, which deals with mill workers. It was a bit slow moving, but one of those books where you can really savor the prose, as she's a master at it!
Gina Dalfonzo
Dec 25, 2015 Gina Dalfonzo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not Wharton's best -- at times it reads like an uneasy mix of Henry James and Upton Sinclair -- but even when she's not at her best, she's very, very good. The story gets better as it goes along, with more of her trademark complexity and strong characterization, and there are some really wonderful passages.
Jul 07, 2014 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classics
Sometimes it was pretty predictable, but I really enjoy Wharton's writing and I think she does a good job of creating flawed but sympathetic characters. This wasn't my favorite of her books, but I still enjoyed it a lot.
Aug 01, 2011 Hermien rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebooks
I had to remind myself every now and again when the book was written (1915) because of some (offensive) opinions about men and women's ability for intellectual thought and feelings (lack of intelligence and too much feeling on the part of women)but otherwise a fascinating book.
Apr 29, 2014 Georgina rated it liked it
Fascinating depiction of place and time with some likeable characters and some villains - enough to make it a good yarn.
Grindy Stone
There is a steep drop-off from "Age of Innocence," "House of Mirth," and "Custom of the Country" and Wharton's lesser-known novels, which I'm diving into. Even "Ethan Frome" is better than this.
Joyce M. Tice
Mar 31, 2010 Joyce M. Tice is currently reading it
Started 2009 - Did not get far. Will pick up again
Nov 03, 2012 Amber rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I'm giving this up. It's insanely heavy-handed, annoyingly didactic, and I'm never going to start wanting the lead characters to be happy.
Julie Mercer
Dec 02, 2013 Julie Mercer rated it it was amazing
Feb 18, 2014 Mary rated it it was amazing
I loved it!
First published in 1907 and am so glad that Virago have re-printed it.
A powerful study of class, morality and love.
Well worth a read.
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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
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