1920s Pulitzer Prize

The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton

Winner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize

The Age of Innocence is set in the upper class society of New York City. The book begins with Newland Archer, the heir to one of the best families, eagerly awaiting his marriage to the beautiful, but quiet May Welland. The arrival of May’s cousin, the Countess Ellen Olenska from Europe, leads Newland to question his choice of bride as he finds himself falling for Ellen.

I’m afraid that I didn’t enjoy this book – it annoyed me from the very first page:

But, in the first place, New York was a metropolis, and perfectly aware that in metropolises it was ‘not the thing’ to arrive early at the opera; and what was or was not ‘the thing’ played a part as important in Newland Archer’s New York as the inscrutable totem terrors that had ruled the destinies of his forefathers thousands of years ago.

I just don’t enjoy reading about people whinging – especially when they are among the most priviliedged in society. I found all the characters to be dull and I didn’t care about them at all. They just seemed to go from one non-drama to the next, continually fretting about insignificant things.

There was something about the writing style that I didn’t like. It could have been the overuse of brackets, or the repetition of the word “darling!”, but whatever it was this book wound me up as much as it bored me. 

There were a few reasonable sections and the ending was actually one of the better parts of the book, but overall I was very disappointed.

I seem to be alone in disliking this book. Reviewers on Amazon describe it as “a work of beautifully subtle observation and delicacy”, “beautifully written, haunting and evocative” and “deeply moving”. I guess I just like reading about people with real problems, or dilemmas that I might have to face one day. I can only enjoy these lighter romances if they make me laugh and I’m afraid that this book failed to do that.

Recommended to those who enjoy gentle, observational books about those with more money than sense!



Did you enjoy The Age of Innocence?

Will I enjoy any of her other books?

classcirc-logoI read The Age of Innocence for the The Classics Circuit. For other Edith Wharton reviews in the month of January, please have a look at the schedule.


December 2009 Summary and Plans for January 2010

I read 14 books in December giving a total of 144 for the year. I’m quite impressed with that and hope I can read a similar number in 2010.

I was lucky to read two outstanding books in December – Flowers for Algernon and Generation A both managed to gain my highest rating and I hope that you decide to read them, as I’m sure you’ll love them!

Overall the quality of the books I read in December was very high. I’m wondering if I’m noticing a gradual improvement due to book blogger recommendations?


Generation A – Douglas Coupland  stars51

Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes  stars51

Fall on Your Knees – Ann-Marie MacDonald stars4h

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) – George Orwell  stars41

The Mosquito Coast – Paul Theroux  stars41

Right to Die – Hazel McHaffie  stars41

Snow – Orhan Pamuk  stars41

Tender Morsels – Margo Lanagan  stars41

The Inner Circle – T.C. Boyle  stars41

A Redbird Christmas – Fannie Flagg  stars41

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Steig Larsson   stars3h

Something’s Wrong – Sam Smith  stars3h

Grotesque – Natsuo Kirino  stars3

An Equal Stillness – Francesca Kay stars2

Plans for January

It is Orange January!

I plan to read a few Orange books this month:

Small Island – Andrea Levy 

The Little Friend – Donna Tartt

Buddha Da – Anne Donovan

I’m also taking part in Woolf in Winter:  

 To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf (29th January)

I hope to read a few of these other books too:

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: v. 1 – M.T. Anderson

Uglies – Scott Westerfield

The Harlot’s Progress: Pt. 1: Yorkshire Molly – Peter Mottley

The Boat to Redemption – Su Tong

Rupture – Simon Lelic

The Woman in the Dunes – Kobo Abe

The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery

Have you read any of the books that I plan to read in January?

Which one do think I’ll enjoy the most?