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Edith Wharton Collection > House of Mirth - SPOILERS

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message 1: by Melanti (new)

Melanti | 2386 comments This thread is for discussion of our June 2017 New School Group Read selection, The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.

Feel free to post and discuss spoilers in this thread.


message 2: by Loretta (new)

Loretta | 2668 comments I won't be joining this read. I've tried several times to read Wharton and I just can't get into her writing. Hope everyone else enjoys the book and I will check out the discussions! 🤗


message 3: by Lana (new)

Lana  | 7 comments I genuinely enjoyed the book. I think, the whole idea can be summarized in these words of Selden: "...the queer thing about society is that the people who regard it as an end are those who are in it, and not the critics on the fence. It's just the other way with most shows--the audience may be under the illusion, but the actors know that real life is on the other side of the footlights. The people who take society as an escape from work are putting it to its proper use; but when it becomes the thing worked for it distorts all the relations of life."

Overall, I got an impression that being in high society is like being constantly in a performance - fake words, fake face expressions, fake friendships and lack of true breath of life and happiness. I can see why this book was so shocking to the public when it was published!


message 4: by Veera (new)

Veera | 7 comments I agree with Anna, this book gave the impression that being in high society is serious work!

I gave this book 4 stars. Have previously read the Age Of Innocence and gave it 4 stars too. I do like Wharton's writing style but had the same problem as with The Age Of Innocence: I was a bit lost with the names of all the side characters. Luckily after book 1 they all started to take a better shape in my head and I wasn't as confused anymore.

I feel like this book has a bit of similarities with The Great Gatsby, one of my all time favourites. Especially when it comes to being in society and how easily you can be cast out of it/how easily people will "throw you away". I felt sorry for Lily, for her wanting so much for herself and not appreciating what could have been with Selden, not allowing herself to "settle" for that. And then also the poor timing with declining Rosendale. I was surprised to see him become as big of a character as he was after his first encounter with Lily and his antisemitist description.


message 5: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1008 comments Anna wrote: "The people who take society as an escape from work are putting it to its proper use; but when it becomes the thing worked for it distorts all the relations of life."

Ooh, I like that!


message 6: by Sue (last edited Jun 09, 2017 05:42PM) (new)

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3046 comments I had the same problem with both books remembering all the characters too Veera. I still gave them both 5 stars though.


message 7: by Joy (new)

Joy I read the first 100 pages and abandoned ship. There is no disputing the quality of writing, but these high-society Victorian and turn-of-the-20th-century books are just not my cup of tea. I have the same problem with Austen. I did eNotes the rest and am quite fascinated by the ending. I can see how it places Wharton into the same school as Kate Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman in some Women's Studies discussions.


message 8: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3579 comments This picked up for me right about the 100 page mark, and now it feels like it will be a relatively fast read to the end. I particularly like the scenes between Lily and Selden.

I think the thing about these types of stories is there is often lots of banter. So if it's sharp and witty, it can be fun--even page after page. But if not, it starts to drag.


message 9: by Sue (new)

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3046 comments Real spoiler stuff here so don't read until you finish!


I was reading Carlos' comment on the no spoiler thread about Lily being so insightful and thought, yeah, I thought that too in the beginning, until she keeps sabotaging her marriage chances. But then again, the reason she sabotages her chances is probably because she was insightful and knew that what she was taught to value (money and status), was not going to make her happy.

She always knew that Lawrence Seldon was the one for her and couldn't really accept anyone else no matter how hard she tried. She was also a kind and caring person who tried hard to do the right thing. Her caring is shown by how she had helped the young women with the baby, how she insisted on paying back Mr. Trenor, even though it would do nothing to help her status, and how she wouldn't use the letters from Bertha to Mr. Seldon to clear her name.

I loved the tragic ending, even though I had hoped for a happy ever after one.


message 10: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3579 comments Okay, I'm with Joy.

I read to page 200, but it still wasn't making me care, so putting it aside for now. I will give it another go someday, because I can't tell you how much I loved The Age of Innocence. For me, this couldn't be more different though. The storyline feels much, much more subtle in this one. That's cool, but you have to really be connected to it to pick up on all that, and I'm just not connecting to it. So I'm filing this under "life's too short," and moving on. Hope everyone else enjoys it!


message 11: by Matt (new)

Matt (mmullerm) | 720 comments Just finished book 1 of a House of Mirth. The plot has a slow build up but I am really enjoying this novel. My fav chapter is probably chapter 12 when Lily goes to the Tableaux Vivant (sort of a masquerade party). It is very interesting to see how the "other half" lived back then. In the writing classes I took in high school and college, the advice I always heard was to write about what you know. Edith Wharton wrote about what she knew in House of Mirth - the rich, high society, social scene on the east coast. I visited the Biltmore earlier this year which is the estate that was owned by George Vanderbilt in Asheville, NC and I learned that Wharton was good friends with Vanderbilt. That and the bit I've read about her shows me that Wharton was definitely well-to-do and part of the rich crowd. I assume Wharton probably saw everything in her life that Lily experiences in this story, and I can imagine the stories Wharton would have been able to tell.


message 12: by Sue (new)

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3046 comments Matt wrote: "Just finished book 1 of a House of Mirth. The plot has a slow build up but I am really enjoying this novel. My fav chapter is probably chapter 12 when Lily goes to the Tableaux Vivant (sort of a ma..."

I'm so glad you made it through book I Matt! Book II gets a lot better. I ended up loving this book so much but I can totally understand people giving up on it.


message 13: by Matt (new)

Matt (mmullerm) | 720 comments Sue wrote: "I'm so glad you made it through book I Matt! Book II gets a lot better. I ended up loving this book so much but I can totally understand people giving up on it."

Thanks Sue! It is definitely heading toward a five star rating from me. Good writing and unique plot (at least unique to me). I loved the first part and am looking forward to part 2 to see how this story ends up.


message 14: by Amy (new)

Amy Eckert | 113 comments I read a The Age of Innocence a few years ago. I thought it was ok, I feel this is a MUCH better novel. The characters seem much more human than just Victorian paper dolls. Lily is an interesting character. Shallow, but I did feel sympathy for her. Her ending just seemed inevitable.


message 15: by Melanti (new)

Melanti | 2386 comments Amy wrote: " Her ending just seemed inevitable. ..."

It definitely felt inevitable... By about a quarter of the way through I had a hunch it would end like that, and by about 1/3 I was almost positive.

It just wouldn't have felt complete with a happy ending.


message 16: by Greg (new)

Greg (gregreadsalot) | 73 comments Hi All, this book has been here at home on my "to-read" shelf for quite a while. I look forward to reading it, then reading all of your comments. Wish I could join the read, but am just wrapping up reads here on goodreads of "Dr. Zhivago" and "Magic Mountain."


message 17: by Melanti (new)

Melanti | 2386 comments The discussion will still be here when your reading schedule clears up!


message 18: by Paneret (new)

Paneret | 7 comments I never comment on the books I read, although I do follow this classics community regularly. House of Mirth is a different item (animal, mineral, spirit?) for me, however, in that it's perplexing. I don't have a ready category for it. The remarkable construction, precise vocabulary, thorough and consistent plot are all there in the stratosphere of rare artistry. Still, I was never absorbed into this book; I couldn't lose myself nor my surroundings. Haven't been able to identify why or why not. Despite loving Age of Innocence, this was merely a 3 star for me. Two-thirds of the way through I found myself wishing she would just kill herself and get it over with — so the ending came as no surprise, since I saw it as Lily's only way out. Maybe I've simply read too many novels in a row of this genre?


message 19: by Sue (new)

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3046 comments Paneret wrote: "I never comment on the books I read, although I do follow this classics community regularly. House of Mirth is a different item (animal, mineral, spirit?) for me, however, in that it's perplexing. ..."

You should comment more. I'm sure many agree with what you have said so eloquently here. I agree with the first part, but understand your conclusion.


message 20: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3579 comments Paneret wrote: "I never comment on the books I read, although I do follow this classics community regularly. House of Mirth is a different item (animal, mineral, spirit?) for me, however, in that it's perplexing. ..."

Yes, I'm glad you decided to comment, Paneret! That is exactly how I felt, and I was beginning to feel lonely. I think it's interesting that you mentioned the construction, and the precise vocabulary. I think something in that could be what lost me, and not the number of names. I do look forward to reading this again sometime when I have the patience to consider exactly what it was that kept me from caring. (Right now I don't have that patience, and if I don't lose myself in a story as you say, I just have to put it down.)


Joanna Loves Reading (joannalovesreading) I read this a few years ago, but it is one that has stuck with me. I see many parallels with high society today. It's a reminder that while the rich and famous lead these seemingly envious lives, they have to cope with it somehow. I hear about the deaths of celebrities like Michael Jackson, Prince, Heath Ledger, Britney Murphy, and most recently Chris Cornell, and I think of this book, deaths caused by a lethal dose of prescription meds. Honestly, it's not just high society. It's seems like OD deaths are in the news frequently.

It is also a testament to be yourself, that facades are not worth it, because you will have to cope with the results, and the longer you fake it, the more difficult the coping will be. This book really had a profound impact on me.


message 22: by Emma McCaul (last edited Jun 21, 2017 07:45AM) (new)

Emma McCaul  (emma90) | 6 comments I felt Lily's mother created a lot of inner turmoil in her daughter. The value put on her looks was excessive and there was such incredible pressure for Lily to marry based solely on her looks.

Growing up, it appeared Lily did not develop an identity outside of being a beautiful woman. Lily grew up with a lack of values instilled in her, yet, she clearly is crying out for a life of value and meaning as an adult. The self sabotage she exhibits when potential marriages arise show she really wants a marriage based on love and not one where she is deemed desirable as a wife just for her looks.

With a different upbringing, with different values instilled in her as a child and young adult, her life could have potentially taken a very different course. Lily was responsible for her own values and choices in her adult life, but I felt there was an over riding influence on her adult life from her mother that she should marry someone based on her physical beauty. She didn't want this, but still, we find her in her late 20s still pursuing this path - with reluctance and self sabotage. It is a pity there was someone in her youth or adult life to reinforce the need for an identity and purpose outside of being a beautiful woman.


Joanna Loves Reading (joannalovesreading) I agree, Emma. Great points. I felt that Lily was a very identifiable character with her insecurities, especially considering they started with how she was raised. Even with the best parents, there is usually something people need to overcome from their childhood.


message 24: by N. (new)

N. G. G. Ellis (ngge) Paneret wrote: "I never comment on the books I read, although I do follow this classics community regularly. House of Mirth is a different item (animal, mineral, spirit?) for me, however, in that it's perplexing. ..."

I'll add my vote that you (feel free to) comment more! I connected a bit more than you indicate here but I was very put off by the ending. I generally prefer tragic endings but this one didn't work for me.


message 25: by Matt (new)

Matt (mmullerm) | 720 comments I have seen a lot of very mixed reviews of this book. I just finished House of Mirth and I could write a book report about how much I enjoyed this novel. I saw some similarities to Scarlett O'Hara in Lily, I loved the NY setting, great plot, awesome writing - I could go on for days, but I don't want to get too long-winded. 5 stars all the way for me!


message 26: by Matt (new)

Matt (mmullerm) | 720 comments I do want to ask one question to get the group's thoughts. Why did Wharton include the lady with the baby near the end and what was the significance of that for Lilly? I'm puzzled as to why that was in there, and the timing of it. The author must have had a reason for it.


message 27: by Sue (last edited Jun 25, 2017 07:44AM) (new)

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3046 comments I agree with all of your comments JoAnna, Emma and Matt. I'm so glad to see others give it 5 stars as I did. I thought I'd maybe be the only one.

I can understand your reaction to the ending Nate. I wished for Lily to have a better ending because I bonded with her, but really I thought it was the perfect ending. I'm glad it was ambiguous enough that you could treat it as suicide or not. I chose it to be accidental.

Matt, I think the girl with the baby was put in to show that Lily had compassion and touched deeply someone below her. Also to show that people can overcome their circumstances and that a middle class life could be very happy. It was the life she missed had she chosen Sheldon. I wish Wharton would have given us the actual scene where this happened much earlier in the book. So you could think (Ah, that's why that character was introduced). She must have thought of her at the last minute.

What rose this to being a 5 star for me was that it was such a powerful message of going with your gut and your heart against what you were conditioned to believe. I can see parallels with people who may have fell in love with someone of another race or religion before the 60's when those barriers started to come down (but still exist to lesser and greater degrees depending on the culture you live in ). People of all time periods have suppressed and continue to suppress feelings because they've been conditioned to believe that they were wrong.


Joanna Loves Reading (joannalovesreading) Sue wrote: "I agree with all of your comments JoAnna, Emma and Matt. I'm so glad to see others give it 5 stars as I did. I thought I'd maybe be the only one.

I can understand your reaction to the ending Nate..."


Thanks Sue. Great points! Suppression continues on just as you say, passed down from generation to generation. With the growth of social media and all our lives becoming more and more public, do you think those barriers are coming down faster or raising them back up? I think it's a bit of both. There seems to be a lot of discussion and a lot of digging heals in and taking a stand. Really this book holds such a pertinent message for today, and I imagine it will continue to do so.

The only reason I am at 4 stars rather than 5 is because of how deeply sad it made me. I am glad I read it and appreciate it for what it is, but I hate that feeling (Happy book reader here) -probably not fair. It is very deserving of the 5 stars, I think.


message 29: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Mehrens | 13 comments Matt wrote: "I do want to ask one question to get the group's thoughts. Why did Wharton include the lady with the baby near the end and what was the significance of that for Lilly? I'm puzzled as to why that wa..."

I puzzled over this myself. I assumed it was a symbol of Lily's shifting system of value. I don't think she ever thought before of marriage as anything but a means to an end, a business arrangement, or a social constraint. Even in her dealings with Selden, her interpretations of marriage are what seem to hold her back (along with her cowardice). Then, she holds this tangible, long-term effect of marriage that is more positive, that is so far outside the social games that taint the rest of her life, and she has a positive reaction from it that she carries with her to her death. I, too, saw a lot of Scarlett O'Hara in Lily, and I see both of their endings as parallels of one another where they lose the thing of most value to them just as they attain an appreciation of that value. For Lily, I think it was a progeny, or the absolute, unfathomable, and real love she experiences in that room that she hasn't seen in any of the other married couples she's had the misfortune to get tangled up in.

I'm on the fence between a 3 and a 4, and what makes me lean toward a 4 was Lily's redemption of her values toward the end and Selden's acknowledgment of that redemption. It didn't result in a "happy ending" by regular standards, but it was still satisfactory in that the characters who were most stubborn were able to overcome their shortcomings and know (if only for a brief moment, in Lily's case) something more transcendental than societal shenanigans.


message 30: by Matt (new)

Matt (mmullerm) | 720 comments Great analysis Ashley! Thanks to you and the others for the feed back about the lady with the baby near the end. It was just kind of out of the blue but it makes sense to me now. I really enjoy reading everyone's thoughts and comments about House of Mirth. Some people like it and other I see not so much, but all the posts are great.


message 31: by Carlo (new)

Carlo | 206 comments I thoroughly enjoyed the book from start to finish. It was beautifully written by an author who really captured the essence of each her characters.

For most of the book I sympathised with Lily, especially considering that her fall from grace was based on an injustice. I was quite surprised that despite her good judgement she allowed herself to be open to such insinuations. As her situation became more urgent she perhaps made more reckless decisions.

My view of Lily changed when she went to work in the hat shop. She still continued to consider herself superior to others and thought that she was "born for better" things. Being unable to learn how to sew the hats properly was a knock to her self confidence but seemed to reinforce her view that she just wasn't cut out for this life.

Her self absorption didn't allow her to appreciate just how lucky she was in many ways and her sense of entitlement seemed out of place with her station.

Selden for me represented the chance of redemption which was continually available to her throughout the novel. A chance she spurned on numerous occasions until it was too late.


message 32: by Sue (new)

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3046 comments Joanna wrote: "Sue wrote: "I agree with all of your comments JoAnna, Emma and Matt. I'm so glad to see others give it 5 stars as I did. I thought I'd maybe be the only one.

I can understand your reaction to the..."


Good points Joanna. I think social media has made it even worse. It causes much more group think in a way similar to high school days! I hate it. Plus, social media causes many to argue much more disrespectfully than they wood in a face to face conversation. The only social media I really like is Goodreads because most seem to stay away from politics and other controversial positions and most seem to have respect for differing ideas, at least in this group.

I absolutely love the Mark Twain quote "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to reform (or pause and reflect)."


message 33: by Sue (new)

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3046 comments Carlo wrote: "I thoroughly enjoyed the book from start to finish. It was beautifully written by an author who really captured the essence of each her characters.

For most of the book I sympathized with Lily, es..."


That is great Carlo! I bet on a second reading, I'd love it from the start also. I agree on Lily's self absorption.


Joanna Loves Reading (joannalovesreading) Sue wrote: "Joanna wrote: "Sue wrote: "I agree with all of your comments JoAnna, Emma and Matt. I'm so glad to see others give it 5 stars as I did. I thought I'd maybe be the only one.

I can understand your ..."


Such a great quote! And I agree; GR is the best sort of social media. I wish I had gotten involved sooner. I didn't realize how much I needed an outlet to talk about books. It has been a wonderful experience.


message 35: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3579 comments Such interesting points and discussion. You all make me look forward to trying House of Mirth again, as soon as I have a little more patience. I've sort of missed Wharton after putting this one down unfinished, so I just picked up her short novella Madame de Treymes to give me a little fix for now. :-)


message 36: by Sue (new)

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3046 comments Joanna wrote: "Sue wrote: "Joanna wrote: "Sue wrote: "I agree with all of your comments JoAnna, Emma and Matt. I'm so glad to see others give it 5 stars as I did. I thought I'd maybe be the only one.

I can unde..."


I wish I would have gotten involved sooner also. I used to read mainly non fiction other than my 3D book club here. We only meet every other month so that's only 6 books a year. It's so much more motivating and interesting to read fiction with others.


message 37: by Sue (new)

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3046 comments Kathleen wrote: "Such interesting points and discussion. You all make me look forward to trying House of Mirth again, as soon as I have a little more patience. I've sort of missed Wharton after putting this one dow..."

That sounds great Kathleen. Added it to my TBR


message 38: by Maartje (new)

Maartje Volder | 38 comments I just finished book 1 and I am sticking with it, but I do fear that this is just not my style. I am glad to see that I am not alone in this matter.

The broader story line is subtle and nice, but some pages I can read, get to the end of the page and then wonder if I read anything. I rarely get that with novels, more with dry research/school material.
I do like the way the book is written, the choice of words, it's just that I lose the story line, personages, and then forget where I am.


message 39: by N. (new)

N. G. G. Ellis (ngge) Very much enjoying the discussion. Some of it may even get me to revise my score of the book (maybe). :)

I'm not sure how many people have also finished Brave New World but I feel like the social worlds of these two books have some very interesting parallels. The strict caste system and social conditioning of the upper caste is very reminiscent. Which brings up a question... in BNW the system is both planned and imposed by a strict authority at the top, does the social order that Wharton dives in to naturally arise from humans being humans? Is it as strict as Huxley's in BNW? (Certainly it seems Lilly finds it almost impossible to escape.)


message 40: by Sue (new)

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3046 comments Nate wrote: "Very much enjoying the discussion. Some of it may even get me to revise my score of the book (maybe). :)

I'm not sure how many people have also finished Brave New World but I feel like the social ..."


It's interesting that you say that because I had always thought of America as never having had a caste system prior to reading Wharton (This and The Age of Innocence) and Some of F. Scott Fitzgerald's books. But it seems it was very much alive in New York City at least. Having money wasn't good enough, it had to be old money as we see with Simon Rosedale in House of Mirth and with Gatsby in the Great Gatsby.

It's certainly not as pronounced as it was in India or the U.K. Those are probably closer to Brave New World. Seeing that most of us came from within the U.K., I guess there was some inherent in that.

I think there is definitely human nature towards snobbery, but not necessarily a strict caste system. There is snobbery here but in India for example, people won't even talk to people based on their name in certain areas (according to my Indian coworkers and friends) even today. Great Britain seems to have drastically loosened theirs from what I can tell. It would be nice to hear from someone there.


message 41: by N. (new)

N. G. G. Ellis (ngge) Sue wrote: "Nate wrote: "Very much enjoying the discussion. Some of it may even get me to revise my score of the book (maybe). :)

I'm not sure how many people have also finished Brave New World but I feel lik..."


These are great points! It's definitely true that Wharton and Fitzgerald provide a window into a part of American history I rarely think about.


Joanna Loves Reading (joannalovesreading) Interesting points Nate and Sue! While reading your points, I wondered if an informal caste system can be more damaging than a formal one, in some ways. Or at least as damaging. Because, while in a formal caste system, you may rue your lot in life, but you're not alone in that feeling, most likely. Many others are in the same situation as you. Something that strikes me about the House of Mirth is how lonely Lillian was.


message 43: by Laurie (new)

Laurie | 1578 comments I finally finished this today and I refrained from reading this thread so that I wouldn't know the ending, but everyone's comments are very insightful. I'm with the few who didn't just love the story. I give the style of writing a 5 since Wharton writes characterizations quite well. But the overall story was a 3.5 for me since I didn't enjoy the slow pace of Book 1.

I wondered why Selden could have enough money to socialize with Lily's crowd but not have enough money for her to marry. He was an attorney which would make him typically wealthy by our standards today, but he apparently wasn't rich enough for Lily. So did most men need a family fortune to be part of the crowd? It is clear that you could make a fortune and work your way into the crowd since Rosedale did.

Lily frustrated me so much for not grabbing her chance at happiness with Selden when she had the opportunity. So my emotions were certainly engaged by Wharton even if it wasn't always in a positive way. And I was confused about the baby in the death scene as well. The explanations given in this thread sound probable, so I appreciate someone thinking that part out. Even so, it seems out of place and weird.

I wouldn't have wanted to try to negotiate the world of the upper-classes back then. Edith Wharton knew that world so intimately since she was born into a rich family. I'm sure the circles she and her family were part of were seriously angered by this novel since she makes everyone seem so cut-throat.


message 44: by George P. (last edited Jun 25, 2017 09:47PM) (new)

George P. | 522 comments Greg wrote: "Hi All, this book has been here at home on my "to-read" shelf for quite a while....am just wrapping up reads here on goodreads of "Dr. Zhivago" and "Magic Mountain"

You seem to go for the long ones Greg!

I've just finished the novel and like some of the other readers admired Wharton's amazing fluency of language but I found it maybe pretentious too, and the overall style didn't seem to appeal to me very much. I think Lily was a very flawed character (most of the best literary characters are) and she was conflicted about marrying some rich man that she didn't really like, much less love, so unconsciously sabotaged those relationships.
I've always been a little annoyed with authors who want a significant ending for their novel and decide that having a main character die is just the thing for it. I'm sure everyone can recall some others (Anna Karenina, A Farewell to Arms, A Tale of Two Cities, even Frankenstein). In some of these it seems a fitting tragic end, in others contrived for a dramatic ending, and I think Lily's death is one of those latter ones. Couldn't she just burn a big house down like in Rebecca and Jane Eyre? ;)


message 45: by Sue (new)

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3046 comments Joanna wrote: "Interesting points Nate and Sue! While reading your points, I wondered if an informal caste system can be more damaging than a formal one, in some ways. Or at least as damaging. Because, while in a..."

That's a great point Joanna, when people are resigned to their fate, they can learn to be comfortable in it but when they know they can rise and fall there can be more stress and discomfort in the fear of falling or failing to rise.


message 46: by Laurie (new)

Laurie | 1578 comments Did anyone else wonder about the title? I wanted to see what the meaning could be since clearly this is not a story of mirth. I wasn't familiar with the verse which comes from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. The verse says, "The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth." Pretty apt for Lily's foolish actions.


message 47: by Sue (new)

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3046 comments Laurie wrote: "Did anyone else wonder about the title? I wanted to see what the meaning could be since clearly this is not a story of mirth. I wasn't familiar with the verse which comes from the Old Testament boo..."

Good find Laurie. I hadn't really thought about the title not fitting.


message 48: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new)

Bob | 4779 comments Mod
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this discussion thread. This is my favorite book by Wharton and like Matt I could talk about it for days. As for Lily, I fell in love with her and I‘m in love still. Wharton created a character of character. She knew her heart mattered more than society, but was trapped by expectations. She paid a tremendous price in trying to hold to her convictions.


message 49: by Sue (new)

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3046 comments Bob wrote: "I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this discussion thread. This is my favorite book by Wharton and like Matt I could talk about it for days. As for Lily, I fell in love with her and I‘m in love stil..."

Yay! Glad to see another lover of it out there. This book isn't for everyone, to be sure, which makes it so nice to see when others enjoyed it as much as you. It's a book that I'll have a hard time recommending to people even though I absolutely loved it.


message 50: by Francisca (new)

Francisca | 368 comments I just finished today - and I enjoyed finally reading this thread. This book, and Lily, really grew on me as I read.

One of the things I noticed is that as the book goes on, particularly in the second part, it feels as if Lily is getting stripped - certainly of her status, her position, her friends, etc - but also of all of the preconceived notions about life and its worth. In the end she's left with her convictions. I think that's one of the purposes of the scene in the end with the baby and the way she takes out her old dresses when she gets home: I felt that she was sort of setting aside her old way of life and starting to consider a different idea of happiness.

I do wish the ending had been happier, though I found the last chapter rather beautiful. (I'm with Melanti and choosing to interpret Lily's death as an accident.) Maybe the alternative ending where she and Selden finally manage to tell each other how they feel would feel cheesy and out of sync with the rest of the book.


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