Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Reef” as Want to Read:
The Reef
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Reef

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  1,030 ratings  ·  125 reviews
Sitting opposite, in the compartment from which he had contrived to have other travellers excluded, Darrow looked at her curiously. He had never seen a face that changed so quickly. A moment since it had danced like a field of daisies in a summer breeze; now, under the pallid oscillating light of the lamp overhead, it wore the hard stamp of experience, as of a soft thing c ...more
ebook, 0 pages
Published January 1st 2010 by MobileReference (first published January 1st 1912)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Reef, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Reef

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,109)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Mar 22, 2008 Gina rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Edith Wharton addicts
This is supposed to be Wharton's Jamesian book....whatever that means. Probably, it's the convoluted plotting in which all is NOT revealed until the end...and then, we "Dear Readers" are treated to the weirdest ending in years. Anna, major female protagonist, visits the blowsy sister of the woman her fiance' has "known" in the biblical sense. Ensconced in a huge pink bed with those annoying barky dogs around her, this parody of who knows what is the last vision Wharton paints. Anna has been str ...more
What was EWs lover Morton Fullerton like ? In her
most autobiographical novel he appears as George
Darrow, an aspiring diplomat who has a casual fling
with a young American woman while waiting for the
widowed Anna Leath (EW) to decide if she wants to
marry him. The ambivalent Anna lives behind a social
mask outside of Paris but she can't shake off her Olde
New York upbringing. Her controlling nature is disturbed
by his sexuality.

Henry James, who had a pash for Fullerton, calls this
her masterpiece. A m
Christopher H.
Edith Wharton's The Reef was written in 1912 when she was essentially at her very best as a novelist, and I think her powers are quite evident in this engaging tale. Also, this is a very theatrical story that I personally think would lend itself very well to a stage adaptation. The book could just as easily have been entitled, The Chateau, as basically three-quarters of the novel takes place within the confines of Mrs Anna Leath's French estate, Givre.

This is the story of romantic relationships,
Marts  (Thinker)
So lets explore issues like unfaithfulness in relationships and lets discuss how past actions can affect our current lives and how our actions sometimes affect others or lets just read 'The Reef' by Edith Wharton...

The widowed Anna Leath meets her old flame George Darrow who intends to marry her, but what she doesn't know is that George met her daughter's governess and had a fling with her, and to complicate it a whole lot more this governess Sophie, should be marrying her stepson, etc, etc...

It has been a while since I read anything by Wharton, but the elegance and perceptiveness of her writing immediately became familiar.

There are 4 main characters who Wharton portrays through minute observations of their automatic responses: physical gestures, changes in their physiognomy (blushing, paling), tone of voice, physical position in a room,the weather/sunlight as reflection of interior moods, etc. This is finest example of an author showing not explaining, and leaving readers to draw t
Christopher Sutch
This is one of Wharton's best, tightly plotted, excellent characterization, and extremely painful emotional impact. Louis Auchincloss, who wrote the introduction to my edition, spectacularly misreads nearly everything about the novel. His statement that Wharton's "hero" is Darrow is belied by Wharton's obvious disgust with him for most of the work; Darrow, after all, lies and otherwise does his best to avoid responsibility for the lives he has ruined by his thoughtless actions at the beginning o ...more
The Reef, Edith Wharton’s eighth novel and published in 1912, is a book that couldn’t possibly have been written today. Its subject matter is so dated that I found myself quite exasperated with its central character, Anna Leath because I cannot imagine any contemporary 30-something woman getting so worked up about a suitor’s ‘past experience’. However, despite the disproportionate angst that forms the novel’s raison d’être, The Reef is a fascinating exploration of trust – how easy it is to lose, ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Reef was beautifully written, subtle and tense. We have for our story a simple drama between two sets of lovers. But the undercurrents of distrust, passion, secrets, loyalties and lies pull the story along inexorably.

Darrow, on his way to propose to the woman he has been courting, encounters an appealing young woman very unlike most women he knows. Sophy is direct, unabashed, self-sufficient and outspoken, but also very vulnerable. He takes her under his wing, so to speak, and introduces her
With her customary elegant, understated prose, Wharton demonstrates that, as much as relationships between the sexes have changed in a century, people continue to be the same.

Sophy is not quite the same level of tragedy as Wharton's better-known Lily Bart, but there's some similarities here. Wharton was acutely aware of the lack of options available to a gently-reared woman without a family to protect her. Anna, on the other hand, shows the ignorance that protection fosters. It’s a Wharton book,
Angela Young
I think this story is the Lancelot, Guinevere, Arthur story: Darrow is Lancelot, Sophie is Guinevere and Anna is Arthur (in the sense of their moral and psychological states, but also in action, because Darrow brings Sophie to Anna and on the way finds himself attracted to her). But it is much more subtle than the ancient story because the characters often don't say what they really feel and so the story is more complicated. And it is also complicated by the fact of a fourth character, Owen, who ...more
If you're looking for a real ending, this is not the book for you. But I think it works. You end up feeling the same conflict as Anna Leath. Darrow is an interesting character in that he discloses information when necessary and with sincere regrets when appropriate, but he also withholds information with a frank belief that it's best left so. At one point Anna asks to know everything about an affair, but he turns her down with the statement that it would only cause her pain and further conflict. ...more
A very interesting and thought-provoking, and sometimes just plain provoking, story. Wharton seems to be warning readers to beware what they wish for, their wish may be granted. Anna Leath senses she has been missing out on "life", that others experience things more fully than she has, and she longs to "feel" things in a deeper way. She gets her wish with a vengeance as she takes up with an old friend, George Darrow, when they meet again after a long gap of years. He and Anna had been attracted ...more
Tiny Pants
I usually loooove Edith Wharton, but for some reason this one was really slow-going. I'm not sure why. My theories are a) it takes place overseas instead of in New York; b) the narrator is male; c) it's later work than others I've read. My final though untested theory, since I have not read any Henry James, is that it is too much like Henry James -- I have read that they were BFFs, and this work is particularly influenced by his writing. If I ever get around to "The Portrait of a Lady" which has ...more
Nick Duretta
Wharton again analyzes the plight of upper-class women in the early 1900s, when social mores were changing quickly. The two principal women in this novel--Anna, the intended bride of George Darrow, and Sophy, the younger girl he had a brief fling with in Paris before he became serious with Anna--exert a lot of tears and hand-wringing over what would be a non-issue these days (a brief sexual tryst that occurred well before any betrothal). The whole thing comes across more soap opera-ish than some ...more
Oh. Began this book with a great appreciation for Wharton's descriptive powers. Scene-setting so vivid and unique that one lingers in it, not the least bit tempted to skim ahead to talk and action and What Happens Next.

Slightly further on, I began to scent the classic Wharton Romantic Rectangle: a man, a woman of proper society, another women less highly placed in the world, and Society Itself.

And yes, it's all that again. From the simple interactions between the gent and Miss Less-Highly-Place
alessandra falca
Non si capisce perché ancora questo romanzo di E. Warthon venga considerato un minore rispetto a "L'Età dell'Innocenza" o ad "Ethan Frome". Questo è un signor romanzo. E non si capisce neanche perché non ne sia ancora stata fatta una riduzione filmica perché il plot è perfetto per questo. Edith Warthon è veramente una scrittrice di grande talento. Il libro si muove a struttura geometrica, i personaggi dialogano veloci e portano avanti la lettura che quasi non te ne accorgi (anche se questa tradu ...more
The Reef is possibly one of Edith Wharton’s lesser known novels, but according to Anita Brookner in her introduction to my Penguin Twentieth Century Classics edition was written during her most brilliantly creative period. In 1910 Edith Wharton’s affair with journalist Morton Fullerton had ended, and it would appear that he is present here, in some respect at least, in the character of George Darrow. The Reef is apparently the novel of Wharton’s most admired by Henry James, and is said to be the ...more
The writing is so fine - this book reminded me why I love to read classics!
I was disappointed by this book.

Edith Wharton is one of my most beloved authors -- her short stories are exquisite and I've read "Age of Innocence" so many times I can't count. Maybe I had too high expectations, but still...

The writing style is beautiful, witty and thoroughly Whartonian (that's why I've given "The Reef" two stars). It captures you and for the first part of the book you are dragged in and enchanted.

But then everything gets excruciatingly melodramatic and predictable. There are s
Beautifully written with well observed characters, all of whom have virtues and flaws and are by turns maddening and appealing. The plot is subtle and tense and keeps you turning pages. Wharton's observations of subtle changes in expression are fantastic as usual and you get the sense throughout of people warily watching each other and gauging their reactions, often inaccurately, as we do in real life. Beautiful.
Courtney Stirrat
I generally love all things Edith, and this is no exception. I did not mind the ending as many readers did; however, I wish she would have kept her relationship with Henry James out of her books. If I could have lopped off Book I, I would have given it 5 stars. But for true Wharton fans, it's a must read.
Daniel Kelley
Edith Wharton is amazing. And... I only had to look up about 65 words while reading this one, which is a respectable number considering how impressive her literary vocabulary is. From her immaculate characterizations of George Darrow, Anna Leith and Sophy Viner to the subtle descriptions of both the hotel where 'the action' occurs and Givré, this book is a masterpiece from start to finish.

I wish I could have finished it somewhat quicker than in seven weeks....

But so it goes. The House of Mirth i
Mike Jensen
OK, so I'm inconsistent. I get tired of certain authors who rewrite the same sort of story so often that you know if the book will end in unhappiness before you have read many chapters. I should have given up on this one for that reason, but I liked the book quite a lot. Perhaps this is for no other reason than it has been so long since I read Wharton that I was ready to enjoy the freshness of her style even when the form of her story lead to obvious conclusions. This is minor Wharton, to be sur ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Why have I not read this before? A beautiful read. It's not the most compelling plot, to be sure, but it is, if you'll allow me, the quiet desperation of everyday living that makes the crisis (well, the everyday living of American Knickerbocker elite who use Europe as their playground, but still...). Here, the really compelling figure is somewhat slyly in the background: the young woman without fortune or options (hello Lily Barts of the world) who must ally herself with various (tedious) famili ...more
Wharton, Edith. THE REEF. (1912). ***. Wharton’s style of writing is tedious and often boring. This novel is no exception. It’s a love story intricately tied into class distinctions and the emerging rights of women in society. Although it was certainly a challenge to the moral temperament of the day, it is very mushy by today’s standards. George Darrow holds a position within the British Foreign Office and is waiting to be posted to an embassy in South America. Before he goes, he wants to firm u ...more
Megan Chance
The Reef is a fascinating character study where the tension comes from the development of an impossible situation. George Darrow comes to France to be with the woman he has loved for years and intends to marry, Anna Leith. When he arrives, he is discovers that an old lover of his, Sophy Viner, is the governess to Anna’s daughter, as well as the betrothed of Anna’s stepson—and therein lies the impossibility. The past affair between Sophy and George begins to be an unbearably heavy and unwieldy we ...more
Staci Woodburn
Oh Mrs. Leath, if only you'd let George rip your dress off a time or two, you're world would really light up. - I love Edith Wharton and I completely believe her characters when they are going through inner turmoil. She writes emotions and internal arguments with both clarity and poetry. In this book we have three intertwined characters. Anna is cold but desperately wants a harlequin style romance underneath her many layers of propriety; Sophy is young and brash and unafraid of life; George love ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 70 71 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Roderick Hudson
  • Edith Wharton
  • The Longest Journey
  • The Pastor's Wife
  • Consequences
  • The Belton Estate
  • Miss Mole (A Virago modern classic)
  • Edith Wharton
  • Hester
  • The Lifted Veil
  • Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece
  • At Mrs Lippincote's
  • A Modern Mephistopheles
  • Gigi, Julie de Carneilhan, and Chance Acquaintances: Three Short Novels
  • The Cranford Chronicles
  • The Land of Green Ginger
  • Exile's Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s
  • Jean Rhys: The Complete Novels (Voyage in the Dark, Quartet, After Leaving Mr Mackenzie, Good Morning, Midnight, Wide Sargasso Sea)
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...
The Age of Innocence The House of Mirth Ethan Frome Ethan Frome and Other Short Fiction The Custom of the Country

Share This Book

“There was such love as she had dreamed, and she meant to go on believing in it and cherishing the thought that she was worthy of it.” 4 likes
More quotes…