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Old New York (Old New York #1-4)

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  1,214 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
The four novellas collected here take place in the New York of the 1840s, '50s, '60s, and '70s. Each reveals the codes and customs that ruled society of that time, drawn with the perspicacious eye and style that is uniquely Wharton's. Novellas include "False Dawn, The Old Maid, The Spark" and "New Year's Day".
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1924)
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It's no secret that I have a girly hard-on for Edith Wharton, and I wear that badge proudly. She wrote fantastic novels, exquisite short stories, and now I've experienced her novellas. (Not to mention her work during the war and her wonderful sense of interior design.) She did it all amazingly.

Here are four novellas of, what else, New York society. Each story is of a different decade: False Dawn takes places in the 1840s, telling the story of a troubled father/son relationship; The Old Maid took
Aug 18, 2015 Mercurialgem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this more than a month ago and my memory isn't that good with names and details but I can say that what I did like about this book was how she could put a really good story into a short story. Meaning each story in the book could have been a book but she was able to condense it with just the right essential details that it was like you got a whole book's worth into this nice short story. And in this book I believe there were four stories. I really enjoyed each and the fact that there was ...more
Nov 30, 2009 Tatiana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Edith Wharton
Wharton rarely disappoints. This is another anthology of novellas dedicated to the themes familiar to all Wharton readers - stifling constraints of Gilded Age New York society, utter dependence of women, etc.

The collection contains 4 stories, each set in a different decade of the 19th century. "False Dawn" deals with the consequences of being different, even in a trite matter of preference in art. "The Old Maid" is an interesting account of an aftermath of an illicit affair where two women are
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
I happened to be up in Ashland, Oregon, this weekend attending the Shakespeare Festival (saw a magnificent rendition of "The Tempest"), and stopped by a used bookstore, Shakespeare Books & Antiques, for a bit-o-browsing. To my utter delight I discovered a collection of four slim hard-cover editions of Edith Wharton's "Old New York" novellas. These are first editions, published in 1924, are illustrated, and in very good condition. Of course I snapped them up for $12 each! While waiting for pl ...more
May 31, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I always love Wharton's view of New York society and False Dawn is a wonderful novella about the wealthy families of the mid-19th century New York and their relationship with money (old and new) and art - acquiring it, appreciating it, and using it to demonstrate their standing in society. Does Edith Wharton really need my review? She's brilliant. Read her.
Jun 03, 2010 Bookworm1858 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009
I was browsing in the library and came across Old New York by Edith Wharton, a collection of four novellas. I've read Ethan Frome, which is very different from other Wharton works as it's set in a rural area in New England while most of the others are in New York society like this one.

Summary from back cover: "These tales are vintage Wharton, dealing boldly with such themes as infidelity, illegitimacy, jealousy, the class system, and the condition of women in society."

False Dawn: A young man is
It's been a couple of months since I read these four novellas that comprise the book Old New York. Wharton is amazing when she is writing about the upper crust of New England Society, and she deals with four decades of New York Society in the four novellas here.

The False Dawn deals with a father and son relationship. The son is commissioned by the father to buy "real" art in Europe, and he makes a genuine effort to actually buy good art by unknown artists. The father is not pleased and ultimate
Jun 26, 2009 Tricia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2009
These four novellas lend an insight into the mores of the upper crust of New York society of the mid-19th century. I thought it was interesting how modern some of the situations and plot felt, even though some of the customs were obviously of another age. It seems some of the societal pressures of marriage and morality could still exist in modern New York society, especially that of the richer classes, which are always a bit more conservative.

I did enjoy some of the stories more than others. 'Th
Jan 22, 2012 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Old New York consists of four novellas: False Dawn, The Old Maid, The Spark, New Year's Day. Wharton employs both irony and empathy to describe upper class New York society of the 1800's. Each novella is set slightly later that the previous story. All take jabs at the conventions of upper crust society. In "False Dawn" a son defies his father who has sent him to buy paintings by "The Masters." Instead he is steered towards lesser know artists by critics like John Ruskin. His father, mortified th ...more
Jul 30, 2011 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Wharton's view of a New York in which old Dutch money is slowly giving way to the new masters of commerce, told in stories of successive decades. It is a world in which appearance is important in ways that can scarcely matter now: being tubercular is better than being an unwed mother, prostitution is conceivable as a way of keeping up the illusion of family wealth. Wharton has a little fun at the expense of these Philistines: the fey son of a great family rebels by collecting then-unfash ...more
Jul 04, 2014 Kate rated it really liked it
Besides their elegant style and their insider's sharp gaze into uppercrust American society during the 1800s, these stories are, simply, ripping yarns. The characters strongly drawn: some extremely sympathetic, some unpleasant by our lights (and by Wharton's.) The plots that bring them together are as gripping and fascinating as a bit of juicy society gossip. Who could turn away after reading the beginning sentences of"New Year's Day"?--

"'She was BAD, always. They used to meet at the Fifth Avenu
Christina Dudley
Not my favorite Wharton but still some wonderful moments here. OLD NEW YORK is an unconnected set of four novellas. "False Dawn" began promisingly, with a wispy son overpowered by a physically intimidating father with a big personality, but once Ruskin made a cameo(!) and the name-dropping of famous painters began, my interest waned. It reminded me of that scene in TITANIC where Rose bought all those paintings her fiancé didn't understand, but we the audience were supposed to recognize, "Dang, t ...more
Frank Stein
May 05, 2011 Frank Stein rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On reading Wharton again I was just amazed at what a flawless writer she is. Her descriptions and dialogue flow like water, and her numerous narratives are inevitably seamlessly woven together. She also again demonstrates her inimitable ability to divine social meaning in mundane actions and objects.

Wharton's hypersensivity to social cues obviously comes from growing up in the rarefied world of the Old New York aristocracy, which she again gently pillories in these four stories. She comes at th
Lisa Lewis
May 29, 2012 Lisa Lewis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I'm trying to both broaden my horizons in pleasure reading, and catch up on some classics, so when I saw this book on Jody's list, it caught my eye. Now I remember why Edith Wharton is still being read almost 100 years after her death. Writing about people and times I don't really have any interest in, these stories nevertheless managed to draw me in immediately and keep me connected until the end. Very enjoyable.
Jan 05, 2011 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will only comment on The Old Maid here. Set in the morals&manners of 1840s NY society, this novelette or short story is, to me, Wharton at her best. She does not write here about despair or melancholy -- this is far more, a powerful evocation of utter hopelessness, written with brevity, sensitivity and complete disinterest. Rarely have I seen the subject so deftly handled.
"Life has a way of overgrowing its achievements as well as its ruins." (p 228)
Sara Steger
Dec 15, 2016 Sara Steger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Edith Wharton. I love her writing style, her insights, her understanding of the world of upper-crust New York (a world I can only ever get a glimpse of through the eyes of others), and her even deeper understanding of the human heart. I cannot say I am always fond of the short-story as a genre, but these novellas are really just short stories, and I enjoyed them every one.

In False Dawn, she shows us the ridiculous criteria on which the values of society are sometimes based and the injusti
Camelia Rose
The style and setting in Old New York is similar to The Age of Innocence. It is about life in New York high society from 1840s to 1890s. Readers of The Age of Innocence will find familiar names in this collection, such as Mrs. Manson Mingott (The Old Maid), a Van der Luyden (The Old Maid) and Sillerton Jackson (New Year's Day).

There are plenty of self-mockery of New York high society where Wharton herself was a member. For example:

"Even his baldness, which was in proportion to the rest, looked
☯Emily is marching in Washington
Wharton shows the consequences of living in the closed social circles of Old New York. I think Wharton clearly reveals that having a lot of money does not make a person happy and that all humans have struggles and temptations. One story shows the consequences of a domineering father on a family and, in this case, the affects on the only son who does not do his father's will. "The Old Maid" is clearly the best of the four stories and sadly reveals the life of a woman who has an illegitimate child ...more
Charlene Morris
Jan 04, 2017 Charlene Morris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nook-books
False Dawn- 4 stars

The Old Maid- 4 stars My favorite out of the entire collection.

The Spark- 2 stars This was my least favorite of the entire collection. This is more of a character driven story. But I really didn't understand why the narrator was fascinated with Hayley Delane.

New Year's Day- 4 stars
Dec 09, 2016 Aura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: could-not-finish
am tras de ea 2 luni. mi s-a parut simpatica prima povestire, chiar daca a fost foarte previzibila, insa mai departe m-am plictisit teribil, e peste puterile mele sa mai citesc ultimele 90 pagini. Poate m-am obisnuit prea mult cu stilul alert al literaturii contemporane. Nu e rea. Just not my type.
Dec 25, 2016 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this glance into mid-19th century New York and all four stories were good. That said, "The Old Maid" was incredible and up there with Wharton's best writing.
Kotai Gyuri
Julie Kofoed
Jan 04, 2017 Julie Kofoed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, short-story
4.5 stars
Razvan Zamfirescu
Spicuiri din recenzia finala care se gaseste pe blogul meu

Pentru a fi un scriitor care merită să rămână în istoria literaturii și numele căruia să se potrivească ca o mănușă unui premiu prestigios precum Pulitzer, atunci trebuie să fii capabil să strângi în paginile cărților tale mici bucăți de timp și de oameni astfel încât cititorii tăi să simtă că trăiesc efectiv alături de poveștile pe care le oferi. Wharton nu doar că face acest lucru, însă talentu
Oct 05, 2016 Tiffany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75 stars
Nov 26, 2013 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joen Wolfrom
Mar 03, 2016 Joen Wolfrom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Old New York is a collection of four diverse novellas: First Dawn, Old Maid, The Spark, and New Year's Day. I purchased this book 30-40 years ago and finally got around to read it. I really enjoyed this book and if you are a fan of Edith Wharton, consider putting this on your book list..

My favorite of these four stories was Old Maid, a story about two close cousins who had a life-turning event. One cousin is an unmarried young woman who had a baby girl unbeknownst to her friends and relatives.
Feb 12, 2013 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This little novella is part of a series written by Wharton called Old New York. There are four pieces in the series, each set in one decade of the 1800s. I wish I’d known this before reading it, because I would have preferred to read them in order as a set. The copy I have includes only the final novella.

• False Dawn (The 'Forties)
• The Old Maid (The 'Fifties)
• The Spark (The 'Sixties)
• New Year's Day (The 'Seventies)

Society is scandalized by an assumed affair between a married woman, Lizzi
Txe Polon
1. False Down: The 'Forties (31/12/15 - 2/01/16)
Con su estilo habitual, Edith Wharton nos deleita con una historia sencilla pero bien tramada, con unos buenos personajes que simbolizan posiciones ideológicas ante la vida y ante los cambios en la mentalidad, símbolo del cambio de los tiempos. Y todo aderezado con el acostumbrado tono irónico que caracteriza sus obras.

2. The Old Maid: The 'Fifties (27/05/15 - 29/05/15)
Sutil retrato psicológico de dos mujeres al que Edith Wharton imprime su
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Women's Classic L...: Week 2: The Old Maid 8 8 Jan 19, 2017 06:03AM  
Women's Classic L...: Week 4: New Year's Day 4 12 Jan 17, 2017 03:02AM  
Women's Classic L...: Week 3: The Spark 5 10 Jan 16, 2017 03:17PM  
Women's Classic L...: Week 1: False Dawn 11 20 Jan 15, 2017 11:40PM  
Women's Classic L...: General Discussion and Reading Schedule 5 30 Jan 12, 2017 12:38PM  
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Old New York (4 books)
  • False Dawn
  • The Old Maid: The 'Fifties (Modern Library Classics)
  • The Spark (The 'Sixties)
  • New Year's Day (The Seventies)

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“For she was really too lovely--too formidably lovely. I was used by now to mere unadjectived loveliness, the kind that youth and spirits hang like a rosy veil over commonplace features, an average outline and a pointless merriment. But this was something calculated, accomplished, finished--and just a little worn. It frightened me with my first glimpse of the infinity of beauty and the multiplicity of her pit-falls. What! There were women who need not fear crow's-feet, were more beautiful for being pale, could let a silver hair or two show among the dark, and their eyes brood inwardly while they smiled and chatted? but then no young man was safe for a moment! But then the world I had hitherto known had been only a warm pink nursery, while this new one was a place of darkness, perils and enchantments...” 5 likes
“Among all these stupid pretty women she had such a sense of power, of knowing almost everything better than they did.” 5 likes
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