The Custom of the Country

By Edith Wharton
Read by Grace Conlin

14.48 Hours 05/01/1995 unabridged
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One of Edith Wharton’s most acclaimed works, The Custom of the Country is a blistering indictment of materialism, power, and misplaced values. Its heroine, Undine Spragg, is one of the most ruthless characters in all of literature, as selfishly unscrupulous as she is fiercely beautiful. When her family acquires a small fortune, they leave America’s heartland and head east. As Undine climbs the social ladder through a series of marriages and affairs, she shows little concern for who she has to step on to get anything and everything she desires. Her rise to the top of New York’s elite society—before moving on to conquer Paris as well—provides a poignant and scathing commentary on the unquenchable ambitions of America’s nouveau riche.

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Summary

Summary

An Entertainment Weekly Pick for 12 Books to Ease Your Downton Abbey Withdrawl

New York Public Library Staff Pick in November 2007

One of Edith Wharton’s most acclaimed works, The Custom of the Country is a blistering indictment of materialism, power, and misplaced values. Its heroine, Undine Spragg, is one of the most ruthless characters in all of literature, as selfishly unscrupulous as she is fiercely beautiful. When her family acquires a small fortune, they leave America’s heartland and head east. As Undine climbs the social ladder through a series of marriages and affairs, she shows little concern for who she has to step on to get anything and everything she desires. Her rise to the top of New York’s elite society—before moving on to conquer Paris as well—provides a poignant and scathing commentary on the unquenchable ambitions of America’s nouveau riche.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“The Custom of the Country is one of the most enjoyable great novels ever written. Not all enjoyable novels are great, and not all great novels are enjoyable. This is, supremely, both.” Guardian (London)
“Of all Edith Wharton novels, The Custom of the Country is my absolute favorite…Grace Conlin’s reading of Blackstone’s unabridged version is splendid, her voice fruity, elegant, and utterly ruthless.”  Forbes
“Brilliantly written.” Saturday Review (London)
“A splendid and memorable piece of work.” Bookman
“Edith Wharton’s finest achievement.” Elizabeth Hardwick

Reviews

Reviews

by Kelly 9/13/2017
Overall Performance
Narration
Story

Becky Sharp could take a lesson

Thackeray's infamous heroine is a peach compared to Undine Spragg (love how the name fits her so well). At least some of the seeds of Becky's nastiness could be found in her sad early years. Not so with Undine -- she's been indulged from birth by parents who haven't a clue what a monster they've nurtured. Undine is almost sociopathic in her disregard for everyone around her. But those around her aren't angels, either. All the supporting characters are nuanced and real, with both flaws and virtues. But the only blameless character is Undine's poor, neglected son. This book is a window into a world that no longer exists, and to some degree, good riddance! Yet it's a fascinating education. The only way this story could have been better is if Undine could have been shown "getting hers" in the end. The reader is excellent as well.

Author

Author Bio: Edith Wharton

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.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Fiction/Classics
Runtime: 14.48
Audience: Adult
Language: English