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Madame de Treymes

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  673 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Edith Wharton's "Madame de Treymes" is a remarkable example of the form. It is the story of the tactical defeat but moral victory of an honest and upstanding American in his struggle to win a wife from a tightly united but feudally minded French aristocratic family. He loses, but they cheat. . . . In a masterpiece of brevity, Wharton dramatizes the contrast between the two ...more
Paperback, Penguin 60s, 87 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Penguin (first published 1907)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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 ·  673 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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Apr 27, 2020 rated it liked it

Dear potential readers,
To promote social distancing in the time of the pandemic, you are kindly requested to split into three groups. Please, follow accordingly.

If you are planning to endeavour Edith Wharton’s books and wonder where to begin, ‘Madame de Treymens’ (1907) is not the best place to start your journey.

While reading this novella, I had a feeling that it was just a sketch for something more profound, which could have been develop
Roman Clodia
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Oh, we are of different races, with a different point of honour;"

This short novella of under 90 pages shows Wharton at her most Jamesian with a story centred on the different morals (and, incidentally, religious prescripts) of Americans and an old French family. Concerned with questions of love, divorce and family ethics, at its heart is a sense of breathtaking malice. This is perhaps not the most representative of Wharton's stories but is deliciously cruel for such a small page count and u
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A novella with a punch. A tale of different morals, religions and cultures multiplied by malice and spite equals a tightly coupled love story where the hero and his beau were thwarted by a vindictive family.
An American in Paris wants to wed a young mother who is still married but separated. Her husband is a known cad. Through the maze of social mores that are able to obtain agreement to a divorce. But the evil family of the husband has other plans.
No one is a winner in this one with a typical W
Jun 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Certain attitudes are born and bred in us, I suppose.

“I don’t know—it’s an instinct. There doesn’t seem to be any choice.”

This is a well-told, plot-driven story that illuminates the difference between the expectations of entrenched family and societal traditions versus the freedom and consequences of individual choice. It made me think that, although recent events have given me reason to doubt, perhaps I was born in the right place and at the right time after all.
This feels like a dry run before The Custom of the Country, but with a different kind of outlook. Charming, deceitful, immoral French vs pure, naive and upstanding Americans. All of them totally useless people, by the way. Set in Paris. Bonus: Catholics are scary. Boo!
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Protestant America vs Catholic France. If you side with the former, a woman trapped by marital laws.
Bett Correa-Bollhoefer
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very short but intense. Shows the difference between American society and French. It also is a love story.
Sep 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a short novella and great read. It brings up to important issues one is the politics of divorce and love and the other is American individuality versus traditional society emphasis on family and societal norms.

1) First the politics of divorce. The book has characters who are not happy in their present marriage. Whereas Mme de Malrive wants a divorce due to her husbands infidelity, Mme de Treymes is trapped in a loveless marriage and cannot divorce due to her family and Catholic faith ev
May 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, literature
Edith Wharton’s novella, “Madame de Treymes”, was published on March 2nd of 1907. It is a story about John Durham, and his desire to marry Fanny Frisbee, who is living in France and who became Madame de Malrive by marriage. Though separated from her husband and in custody of their son, Madame de Malrive fears that she cannot get a divorce which would allow her to marry John Durham. Durham goes to her cousin by marriage, Madame de Treymes, to try to determine if the family will allow a divorce. M ...more
Aug 10, 2012 rated it liked it
This is more like two and a half stars, but I'm rounding up because the writing is so good. Also because the story seems to provide some of the details of what exactly might have been so awful about Ellen Olenska's marriage, which is something that I've always wondered about since I first read The Age of Innocence.

The premise, however, that Americans live by the codes of individualism and integrity, while continental Europe cares only for the (outward) integrity of the family, doesn't hold up ve
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Spoiler Alert: I'm not revealing too much, but you may wish to skip this review if you plan to read the book.

This novel is not really up to Wharton's usual standards. It's a quick read, somewhat dated. Mainly about a woman whose wish for a divorce and a new life with a good man is stymied by her husband's family, and as you read you can predict that she's just not going to succeed. You feel sorry for the poor thing because she is faced with a difficult choice - her new man or custody of her son
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
In this short story/novella, Parisian high society does not easily "allow" its members to divorce, so an American man wishing to marry one of the ladies attempts to intercede with her husband's family. He is unable to guess their motivation for helping him. Their personal choices are grounded in their cultures of social class and nationality.
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
OK, after wondering if Ms Wharton is just too much effort, I then took on more of a detective's approach. I couldn't really figure out where a paragraph (or even a sentence, sometimes) was going until I got there. Being like a detective engaged me enormously: will I figure this out before the end of the paragraph?
I can see why this style of writing became less popular, but it still has merits.
Example (regarding why Mme de Malrive hasn't petitioned for a divorce, worried that M de Malrive may get
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In a lot of ways this reads like a first try at "The Age of Innocence," her later masterpiece, because it is mainly about how difficult it is to extricate yourself from the varied pressures that your family can bring to bear against you. Except in this case the family is French, and the girl trying to extricate herself is an American who has married in. It's funny how much Wharton plays up the inscrutability of French family life, here, and the comparative naivety of the Americans, when in "The ...more
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
In this novella, an American gentlemen, Durham, living in Paris with his family, desires to marry childhood sweetheart, Fanny, but she is still married to her French Aristocrat and needs to divorce him. The problem she also is trying to gain full custody of their son and French law is different. Durham and Fanny's only help is her sister in-law, Madame de Treymes, who hates her brother.
This is my second Wharton that I have read, the other being Ethan Frome, and I liked this one better. Ethan Fro
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Edith Wharton, and most of the 19th and early 20th century female writers, save Jane Austen and L.M.Montgomery, always chose subject matters that irked me. This small novelette is no different, however, the way she writes is so intriguing. I refuse to read Ethan Frome because in reading the fly leaf it just sounded like such a sad bastard novel that I might as well be reading the Bell Jar. But this one is different. The humor and the way it is written is well done, and although the ending is not ...more
Fred Casden
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
From reading many of the previous reviews, I notice the great disparity in the ratings for this novella. In my mind, this work is extremely effective, the kind that could be used to demonstrate how a first-rate writer can effortlessly introduce essential narrative elements in a relatively short number of pages (chap. 1 and 2).
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Bite sized Wharton that's not too insufferable. Americans try to escape the spectre of French family and church to find happiness. Chap tries to trust in his innocent forthrightness to navigate his happiness. And we are extremely shocked when he gets double triple crossed by a wily Frenchwoman and even more shocked when he is willing to nobly sacrifice his happiness.
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic, 2008

Wonderful very short, succinct novella which left me actually wishing it had been a longer book! I felt like I got to know the characters and wanted more of them. This is a tiny book (maybe 3x4 inches), didn't quite feel like a "real" book, but it was not abridged
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019

John Durham wants to marry Fanny Frisbee, a woman separated from her husband.
With the help of Madam Treymes, John is given the opportunity to help Fanny finalize her divorce, but it will come at a price.

A short story about morals and how far one will go for what they want.
Jenny Clark
A well written, fast paced little story. Very sad, but Durham is a very nice man.
Mar 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short and sweet, wouldn't mind a longer version of this story.
Steven Godin
Apr 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Nice novella, but Wharton is better suited for the novel.
Hillary Copsey
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Divorce, deception and moral fortitude all in 140ish pages. I'm so glad I found this little novella.
Laura Henderson
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was well Written. This is my kind of reading. This is very interesting. I give it 3 thumbs up
Kris McCracken
Jul 15, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, at least it was short. I really have to stop reading these trite, banal pieces about stupid, rich and lazy Americans in pre-WWI Europe.
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read twice
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fast, witty, flirtatious, and devious. You might not be sure in the end who and what exactly just happened, but therein lies the point.
Nsikan Akpan
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Wharton is a good writer, though
Mark Steve
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
That's really nice
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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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