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The New York Stories of Edith Wharton

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  671 ratings  ·  57 reviews
A New York Review Books Original

Edith Wharton wrote about New York as only a native can. Her Manhattan is a city of well-appointed drawing rooms, hansoms and broughams, all-night cotillions, and resplendent Fifth Avenue flats. Bishops’ nieces mingle with bachelor industrialists; respectable wives turn into excellent mistresses. All are governed by a code of behavior as rig
Paperback, 464 pages
Published October 9th 2007 by NYRB Classics (first published 1934)
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4.20  · 
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 ·  671 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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Glenn Russell
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing

This New York Review Books edition collects twenty classic Edith Wharton (1862-1937) short stories spanning the entire range of her writing career and also includes a most informative twenty-two page Introduction by Roxana Robinson, providing biographical detail and extensive social and cultural context for her fiction.

Reading through this collection was really my first exposure to the author and I must say I was quite taken not only with the clarity of the language, the subtle ways in which sh
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Cecily by: Laysee
Twenty sparkling stories, shining a critical, satirical eye on NY society relationships in the first third of the 20th century. Wharton is an engaging storyteller who doesn’t over-explain or give trite, tidy, predictable endings. Eight 5*, seven 4*, and five 3*. There are similarities of themes and style, including echoes of Wilde. See my ‘Write Your Own WhartonHERE, which includes a brief bio.

Reviews, Ratings & Quotes

Hidden for brevity. Plot spoilers are nested in another spoiler tag.
Kevin Ansbro
"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."
— Edith Wharton

In this collection of short stories, Edith Wharton ploughs a furrow through the milieu of high society in early twentieth century New York.
I must confess that I didn’t immediately warm to her ornamented, yet judicious, prose and at the onset likened her writing style to Oscar Wilde with the brakes on.
Happily, fickle fool that I am, I quickly became attuned to the tempo of her penmanship and
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-books
The New York Stories of Edith Wharton is a collection of twenty stories par excellence written from 1891 to 1934 that offers an incisive and unsparing social commentary on Old New York. An introduction by Roxanna Robinson acquaints us with Wharton’s life among the privileged and fashionable upper crust of society, its suffocating Puritan values, the conflict she felt between the formal restraint of an insular world and her quest for freedom of thought and ideas, her unfulfilling marriage and eve ...more
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
No-it was always the same thing, over and over and over again-the same vague gush of adjectives, the same incorrigible tendency to estimate his effort according to each writer’s personal preferences, instead of regarding it as a work of art, a thing to be measured by fixed standards!

So goes another of my reviews….

This is an interesting collection of 20 short stories from Edith Wharton, spanning a long period from 1893 to 1934. Her style and content is consistent throughout the years and it is ha
Feb 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
This will be good for people who love Wharton & are interested in the development of her craft. Some of the stories presented here are rather uneven & disappointing; I love her best when she dwells on searing emotional pain, as in Autres Temps..., which I like best out of this collection. Several of the others here are also fine enough, but more than a few smack too much of an O. Henryish kind of predictability and pat ending. As a collection, it isn't outstanding, but I didn't want to g ...more
I love reading Edith Wharton. I have said before that I consider her one of the great American writers, on a level with Fitzgerald and Hemingway. I like her novels better than her short stories but there are some good ones in this book. She was at her best when writing about New York as she does here with these stories.
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars.
I have been reading these stories in between novels. When I read short stories, especially these by Edith Wharton, I prefer not to read them all consecutively, so they don't blur together.

Edith Wharton is a perfect example of a timeless writer, although she is writing about a specific time. She writes about Old New York with its high class society, a society she was a member of. She doesn't mind poking a little fun at them. She sees these " high browed" people of society- she sees the
Nov 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Really, really good. Anthologies of stories are always going to be somewhat patchy - not every story is as much to one's taste as the others, but this set of stories had quite a few that really struck me, and in general, I really like the way that Wharton writes - definitely will be seeking out her novels soon.

That said, her style is definitely not going to be good for everyone - in the introduction, Roxana Robinson describes uses the phrase 'crystalline brilliance', which tells you most of what
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
While the quality of these stories varies (sometimes the dialogue seems completely stilted, but perhaps this just a 21st century ear listening to a voice from the 19th), Wharton is generally fantastic at depicting the psychology of her characters, and how little they know of themselves and their companions. She is particularly good at drawing out the roles of money and class and gender in New York society, which can rarely be spoken of but are hanging ever present over the characters, like evil ...more
Ami Jo
Oct 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Always love a trip to Wharton or James' New York... short stories are easy for a short read, or longer if you have a morning to kill. Love the twist Wharton always has to her stories. The last line of this collection is a good one.
Aug 14, 2015 rated it liked it
I love Edith Wharton but many of the stories in here didn't seem like her best work. Favorites were: A Cup of Cold Water, The Quicksand, The Rembrandt, After Holbein, Pomegranate Seed, and Roman Fever.
Apr 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wharton was a bit of a badass for her time.
J. Merwin
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love Edith Wharton and her spy glass into the souls of the '400' in 19th - early 20th c. New York. Just finished 'New Years Day' in an old edition that first in your hand and has larger than average type. What a joy to read...Instead of glamorizing the already splendid lives and environments of these rich folks, she meticulously describes their difficult relationships, affairs and tragedies all caught in a web of restrictive behavioral norms - societal/financial and romantic. Her language is b ...more
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
Edith Wharton is near the top of the pinnacle of American fiction for me. While I have read all of her novels, I have come to realize that her greatest strength may well be her short stories. They are simply sublime. They definitely pack a punch! And while I reference the New York Review of Books edition here, I have a couple of other collection of her shorts and they are all nothing short of brilliant. She also published a volume of ghost stories that are truly some of the best spooky stuff out ...more
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
By choosing stories that are either set in New York, or feature New Yorkers as their main characters, this collection, presented in the order in which the stories were first published, provides a valuable survey of Wharton's talent as a short story writer as it developed over the course of her long career (they were originally published between 1891 and 1934). She is very good at conveying a sense of her characters as helpless captives in a web of social obligations and conventions, whether they ...more
Sep 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting book to read, as the stories are arranged in the order they were written. I sensed her maturation as a reader, both in terms of her subject matter and the plots of the stories. I loved the stories that engaged with visual art. She also, of course, is always fascinated by class and gender.
The early stories have a kind of O'Henry feel to the them. The later stories are more sophisticated. Some of the stories are quite long. There was actually a kind of ghost story later in
Feb 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic
Oh snap! Miss Jones will teach you a thing or two about class, society, and what it means to be a woman.

And her New York is possibly the most romantic New York of all time.

If you can, try to read each story in the neighborhoods in which it's set. Better yet, throw on a bustle, huff on a little ether, and horse-and-buggy yourself around in character(s)! What a delight.
Mar 17, 2008 added it
I want to kiss Wharton for having written this stuff when she did. And we thought free thinking females were an invention of the 60s... She understands people. She's not afraid to write from a male pov. She's so good at making you enter the world of her characters. A different New York, but in some ways, the same one.
Julie Siegel
Oct 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
I hate this star system; never liked grading students either...EW a master of prose and such a clear, insightful social lens. The good stories are riveting and profound; a few did not compel me at all...but that's how it should be. Supern Intro by the wonderful contemporary novelist, Roxana Robinson.
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-fiction
Edith Wharton led a pretty troubled life and these stories were written in the midst of it all. They're poignant, darkly humorous, and nearly always suspenseful, in a drawing-room-drama type of way. I laughed, I cried, I felt transported to Gilded Age New York City.
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written, as all of Wharton's work. The stories rage from middle of the road to astonishing- Roman fever has to be one of the best short stories ever written. I finished it and went back to the beginning to start it again.
Kaycie Hall
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love Edith Wharton, and I needed more of her in my life after moving to New York, so I read about half of these over the span of a few months. It's time to part for now, but I'm sure I'll return to them.
Aug 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Wow, Edith Wharton's writing is incisive, rich, and ominous. Of course the writing is old-fashioned, which can sometimes be hard to wrap my brain around, but many of the short stories consist of flawed, nuanced characters and a very delectable, dark, twisted ending.
Jan 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Really good. A variety of stories, I like that she does not write the same thing again and again. My favorite story had to be Roman Fever. I felt it had a different level, different purpose. I love New York and here is a newyork from the very early 1900's. Enjoy.
Aug 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
The later stories surprised me. I didn't expect so much would hang on the plot. Made for very entertaining reading - lots of irony, mystery and surprise, in addition to the development of character and scene. O Henry and EW have some things in common - though not their literary reputations.
May 29, 2009 rated it liked it
I had this vision that I was going to read this in Washington Square Park and imagine being in Olde New York. But it's rained the whole time I was reading it, so a no go there. I love Edith Wharton and I love New York, but if you don't, this will probably be a bit tiring.
Sep 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Elegant writing and a brutal contemporary assessment of turn of the Century New York and Parisian society of the belle epoch. Short stories that rival Anton Chekov both in their brevity and in their power to engage and enthrall.
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Edith Wharton's wit and piercing insight is still as relevant and perceptive as it must have been when she wrote. Gorgeous, unusual and sometimes darkly unexpected. Love her work!
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
I've read a lot of books over the years. This is the first time I've read a short story collection cover to cover. Edith Wharton is a magnificent writer.
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NYRB Classics: The New York Stories of Edith Wharton 2 5 Oct 29, 2013 04:17PM  
  • The New York Stories of Henry James
  • The New York Stories
  • The Stories of J.F. Powers
  • My Fantoms
  • Adventures of Sindbad
  • Memoirs of Hecate County
  • The Cost of Living: Early and Uncollected Stories
  • The Wine-Dark Sea
  • Amsterdam Stories
  • Indian Summer
  • Seven Men
  • Victorine
  • Mr. Fortune's Maggot; and, The Salutation
  • A Schoolboy's Diary and Other Stories
  • Apartment in Athens
  • The Furies
  • Peasants and Other Stories
  • No Tomorrow
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