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, fa3.5 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 philandering husband. Ellen, who has spent many years in Europe, has a more artistic sensibility and shocks her staid relatives with her bohemian ways. Society, as well as these three main characters, plays a part in the resolution of this love triangle.
Very detailed descriptions are given of the homes, manners, and lifestyles of the upper class New Yorkers during the time that Wharton was a young woman herself. While this makes the book important historically, it weighed down the first half of the novel. The second half of the book picked up the pace of the plot.
Each of the two women, especially May, seemed more complex than Newland realized. He was dealing with his own feelings of being constrained by society, but also had a strong sense of duty. Society was changing by the time Newland's children were adults with many more opportunities for freedom and self-expression.
Take a Trip: Part of this novel was set in Newport, RI, where the very wealthy vacationed in the summers. The mansions have been beautifully preserved, and their tours offer another glimpse of this element of society. The conspicuous consumption is almost overwhelming. Newport is an especially scenic and interesting getaway....more
In 1929, Congress appropriated funds to give Gold Star Mothers the opportunity to visit the graves of their sons who died in World War I. The author,In 1929, Congress appropriated funds to give Gold Star Mothers the opportunity to visit the graves of their sons who died in World War I. The author, April Smith, was inspired by the real-life diary of Thomas Hammond who acted as an escort to a group of mothers traveling to France in 1931. The book follows fictional Cora Blake and four other East Coast mothers as they travel by ship to France, visiting Paris and Verdun.
There are lots of interesting historical details included in the book--the Depression, racial and ethnic prejudices, veterans with tin masks covering facial injuries, the battlefield, the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, and the heartbreak of losing a son. I liked the book, but I did not feel especially emotionally connected to the characters. Since we are remembering the 100th Anniversary of World War I, it seemed very appropriate to read about the endless rows of graves of the fallen soldiers and the mothers who mourned them. ...more
I was drawn into this story by the emotional warmth of the two women who corresponded by mail during World War II. Matched as pen pals, Glory, the MasI was drawn into this story by the emotional warmth of the two women who corresponded by mail during World War II. Matched as pen pals, Glory, the Massachusetts mother of two young children, begins corresponding with Rita, a woman twenty years older in Iowa. They were both worried about the military men they loved--Glory's husband and Rita's husband and son. The two women laugh and cry, ask advice, and offer emotional support. Women in their hometowns grouped together to roll bandages, knit socks, talk about women's rights, and serve refreshments to soldiers. Some women took over the jobs left vacant by the men joining the military. Rita and Glory both grew victory gardens, and added sunflowers for some emotional sunshine. There were days when they were overcome with fear for their men, and people dreaded the sight of the telegraph delivery boy walking up their street. Temptations also existed for the lonely women with their husbands far away. Some women with German heritages also had to worry about others looking down on them with disrespect.
The two authors of this book have never met, and wrote the first draft of the book together by e-mail correspondence. Suzanne Hayes wrote the letters from Glory and her Massachusetts family, as well as some poetry. Loretta Nylan wrote the correspondence from Rita and her family and Iowa friends. The early letters come across as genuine letters. By the end of the book, quite a bit of dialogue was included in the letters, giving the book a more intimate feeling. "I'll Be Seeing You" tells about hardship and friendship. The engaging characters, and interesting home front history kept me reading late into the night.
Since rationing was in effect during World War II, book clubs might find it fun to use one of the wartime recipes for refreshments at their meetings. Sugar was rationed so molasses, honey, maple syrup, and corn syrup were substituted in the recipes for baked goods....more