Felicity's Reviews > The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
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's review
Mar 02, 2009

really liked it
Read in March, 2009

Oh Lily, Oh Lily, what could you do? When I first read this book over a decade ago, I was so angry at Lily Bart. What a fool for failing to choose the "right" man, even if that man had been the detestable Percy Gryce. He would have been the solution to all her problems. And what a fool for getting herself into all these awkward situations...Lily Bart was a victim of misfortunes of her own making, not of anyone else's.

But ten years later, and with a little more wisdom of my own, I wept and wept for poor Lily Bart. Tragically (I say, with a quick glance to my own bank balance), I empathize with her desire for beautiful things, for unaffordable material things, for essentially useless things of elegance and beauty. And, more importantly, I empathize with her fierce desire for independence. For me, the world is a different place, and I have that choice. But, Lily Bart, alas, did not. I even sense that Gerty Farish--the sole independent female figure in the novel--might have given it all up if someone had shown any interest in her. Gerty's independence was born of necessity, and some luck--a small income of her own. But Lily really had no choices, and that made the finale to this novel so much more heartwrenching than when I first read it ten years ago.

And I do love Wharton's exquisite use of language. It's quite delicate and delightful, much like Lily herself.

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