The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth

Book - 1905
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In The House of Mirth , which helped to establish Edith Wharton's literary reputation, she honed her acerbic style and discovered her defining subject- the fashionable New York society in which she had been raised and that held the power to debase both people and ideals. In this devastatingly accurate and finely wrought tale, Lily Bart, the poor relation of a wealthy woman, is beautiful, intelligent, and hopelessly addicted to the moneyed world of luxury and grace. But her good taste and moral sensibility render her unfit for survival in a vulgar society whose glittering social edifice is based on a foundation of pure greed. A brilliant portrayal of both human frailty and nobility, and a bitter attack on false social values, The House of Mirth has been hailed by Louis Auchincloss as 'uniquely authentic among American novels of manners.' With an Introduction by Anna Quindlen and a New Afterword by Michael Gorra
Publisher: Scribner 1905.
ISBN: 9780451474308
9780307949523
9780684842202
0684842203
Branch Call Number: FICTION WHA

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mamabadger56
Jun 29, 2017

A wonderful novel with a great deal of insight into human nature, and into the predicament of women at the time. Lily Bart is a rare character, one that should be contemptible but is also sympathetic and fascinating.

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_Dusty45s_
Jul 02, 2015

While I recognize that there is a wonderful discussion to be had regarding gender based upon this book, it was difficult to feel empathy for Lily. Her arrogance and ignorance were hard to swallow. This is a far cry from the working class literature of writers like Orwell and London. This novel is a disgusting look at the sheer stupidity of the wealthy.

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SophieMontague
Apr 12, 2014

I am so glad i didn't live in this time. Was angry that the only way out for this character was to die! But realize that is exactly what the author was trying to show us; the inequity of being a woman.

jeanner222 Dec 26, 2012

I’m not sure of the meaning of this novel’s title—very little mirth here, at least for our main character, Lily Bart.

Turn of the century New York sets the stage for Lily’s story. Lily walks a tightrope amongst the elite of the city. She is not wealthy; she is a hanger-on. She is beautiful, very beautiful, and her beauty is her currency.

As she ages and still fails to marry, despite her beauty, Lily begins to swim in dangerous waters. What is most troubling is that her failure to marry is her own fault. She doesn’t want to marry for just money, even though that is precisely what she needs to do. Of course, such a naïve notion becomes her downfall. And her downfall is sad and ugly.

I really enjoyed the first half of the novel, in which Lily still had status amongst the elite. The second half of the novel, which chronicles her downward spiral, is slow and depressing.

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Bookwoman247
Sep 07, 2010

Lily Bart is a young woman born into New York's Golden Age society.

In order to maintain her place in society, she must marry wisely. Being orphaned, she must look to herself to make a good match. As Lily says "...when a girl has no mother to palpitate for her, she must be on the alert for herself."

Even with the advantages of beauty, ambition, wiles, and great delicacy, Lily, without an interested party to look out for her, makes a series of fatal mistakes.

The inexorableness of Lily's fate, only whispered and hinted at at first, becomes more and more clear as the novel progresses until the reader is led to the inescapable conclusion. I felt as if I were firmly in the authors's deft hands through the entire book, although the author, herself, never intruded on the story once.

Wharton has got to be one of the most gifted writers of all-time!

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macierules
Feb 05, 2010

Lily Bart is the most memorable character to me since Elizabeth Bennet.

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dms
Jul 16, 2008

Very good book. Wharton comments on the society of Old New York, the role of women and the social mores of the time.

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ladytigressa
Jun 13, 2008

But now his love was her only hope, and as she sat alone with her wretchedness, the thought of confiding in him became as seductive as the river's flow to the suicide. The first plunge would be terrible, but afterward, what blessedness might come! ...Oh, if he really understood; if he would help her to gather up her broken life and put it together in some new semblance in which no trace of the past should remain!

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