I read Madame Bovary last month as part of a read-along, and several reviewers drew parallels between Emma Bovary and Lily Bart. It’s interesting that you are mentioning the two in the same sentence as well. I am planning to read The House of Mirth fairly soon, but I am still recovering from The Age of Innocence — my new favorite book.
I’m very sensitive to weather descriptions. I think, now that you mention that, that dragged me down. There isn’t a lot of beauty in the world, while the settings in The House of Mirth are all so grand and beautiful.
One could understand why she didn’t want to leave it. Lily loved beauty more than anything.
I don’t remember the granite compariosn in Ethna Frome but it makes sense.
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I find this a very interesting comment and funnily -I’ve started a review about a month ago in which in which I wondered whether Wharton didn’t secretly relish Lily’s (and other women character’s downfall) – for the very same reasons the women in the novel do. Since that was such a wild assumption, i moved away from it, in the end.
Inspite of my praise of this and other Wharton novels – Henry James is the one I prefer if I have to choose. Some of his novels are written in a tedious style but the others are among my very favourite books. Now, The House of Mirth comes very close to his best, I think.
I’m sensitive to moods and atmopsheres in novels and the atmosphere in Ethan Frome was more oppressing and it was quite violent.
I love Edith Wharton and by chance I had picked up The Custom of the Country this weekend as my classic (following poor Balzac). I think Undine Spragg is going to be a most intriguing heroine–and I get the feeling she will not be especially likable, which should make an interesting comparison to Eugene Rastignac–another social climber. I went through a big Edith Wharton phase in my 20s, but there are a number of her books I never did get to–House of Mirth also being one of them. I think The Age of Innocence is one of my favorite novels and have read it at least three times. She is someone you can read and read and always get something out of–and even these car crash sorts of stories or books with difficult characters are so good to read! You write about it really well and make me want to read this one next now!