‘I want - I want somehow to get away with you into a world where words like that - categories like that - won’t exist. Where we shall be simply two human beings who love each other, who are the whole of life to each other; and nothing else on earth will matter.’
Newland Archer, a successful and charming young lawyer conducts himself by the rules and standards of the polite, upper class New York society that he resides in. Happily engaged to the pretty and conventional May Welland, his attachment guarantees his place in this rigid world of the elite.
However, the arrival of May’s cousin, the exotic and beautiful European Countess Olenska throws Newland’s life upside down. A divorcee, Olenska is ostracised by those around her, yet Newland is fiercely drawn to her wit, determination and willingness to flout convention. With the Countess, Newland is freed from the limitations that surround him and truly begins to ‘feel’ for the first time.
Wharton’s subtle exposé of the manners and etiquette of 1870s New York society is both comedic, subtle, satirical and cynical in style and paints an evocative picture of a man torn between his passion and his obligation.
About the Author
Edith Newbold Jones was born into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." The youngest of three children, Edith spent her early years touring Europe with her parents and, upon the family's return to the United States, enjoyed a privileged childhood in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. Edith's creativity and talent soon became obvious: By the age of eighteen she had written a novella, (as well as witty reviews of it) and published poetry in the Atlantic Monthly.
After a failed engagement, Edith married a wealthy sportsman, Edward Wharton. Despite similar backgrounds and a shared taste for travel, the marriage was not a success. Many of Wharton's novels chronicle unhappy marriages, in which the demands of love and vocation often conflict with the expectations of society. Wharton's first major novel, The House of Mirth, published in 1905, enjoyed considerable literary success. Ethan Frome appeared six years later, solidifying Wharton's reputation as an important novelist. Often in the company of her close friend, Henry James, Wharton mingled with some of the most famous writers and artists of the day, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, André Gide, Sinclair Lewis, Jean Cocteau, and Jack London.