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The House of Mirth

Cover of The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth

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Set among the elegant brownstones and opulent country houses of turn-of-the-century upper-class New York, Edith Wharton's first great novel is a precise, satiric portrayal of what the author herself called "a society of irresponsible pleasure-seekers." Her brilliantly complex characterization of the doomed Lily Bart, whose stunning beauty and dependence on marriage for economic survival reduce her to a decorative object, is an incisive commentary on the status of women in that society. Lily is all too much a product of the world indicated by the title, a phrase taken from Ecclesiastes: "The heart of fools is in the house of mirth." From her tragic attraction to bachelor lawyer Lawrence Seldon, to her desperate relationship with the social-climbing Rosedale, it is Lily's very specialness that threatens the fulfillment she seeks in life.

Set among the elegant brownstones and opulent country houses of turn-of-the-century upper-class New York, Edith Wharton's first great novel is a precise, satiric portrayal of what the author herself called "a society of irresponsible pleasure-seekers." Her brilliantly complex characterization of the doomed Lily Bart, whose stunning beauty and dependence on marriage for economic survival reduce her to a decorative object, is an incisive commentary on the status of women in that society. Lily is all too much a product of the world indicated by the title, a phrase taken from Ecclesiastes: "The heart of fools is in the house of mirth." From her tragic attraction to bachelor lawyer Lawrence Seldon, to her desperate relationship with the social-climbing Rosedale, it is Lily's very specialness that threatens the fulfillment she seeks in life.

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About the Author-
  • Edith Wharton (1862–1937) was born in New York and is best known for her stories of life among the upper-class society into which she was born. She was educated privately at home and in Europe. In 1894 she began writing fiction, and her novel The House of Mirth established her as a leading writer. Her novels The Age of Innocence and Old New York were each awarded the Pulitzer Prize. She was the first woman to receive that honor. In 1929 she was awarded the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Fiction.

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Ecclesiastes puts it this way: "The heart of fools is in the house of mirth," and Edith Wharton's 1905 classic reinforces this precept. Set in that time, the novel deals with the idle rich, save for protagonist Lily Bart, one of literature's great heroines, whose beauty and wit provide some, but not enough, compensation for her lack of money. Lily's misadventures create a shifting mix of poignancy, sadness, exhilaration, pity, even fear--for her and for the listener, who is well served in this audiobook by the truly marvelous narration of Anna Fields. She perfectly captures Lily and a largish cast, discriminating among them with such skill that you'll believe you're hearing a full-cast recording. Wharton's book, though dated, is fine, and Fields makes it even finer. T.H. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award (c) AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine
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    Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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