The House of Mirth

By Edith Wharton
Read by Anna Fields

13.73 Hours 03/01/2001 unabridged
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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. Time after time, Lily fails to make the ultimate move, to abandon the possibility of a greater love and enter into a mercenary union. This masterful novel from one of literature’s greatest voices is a tragedy of money, morality, and missed opportunity.

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Summary

Summary

Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award

One of Modern Library's 100 Best English-Language Novels of the Twentieth Century

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.

Time after time, Lily fails to make the ultimate move, to abandon the possibility of a greater love and enter into a mercenary union. This masterful novel from one of literature’s greatest voices is a tragedy of money, morality, and missed opportunity.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“A tragedy of our modern life, in which the relentlessness of what men used to call Fate and esteem, in their ignorance, a power beyond their control, is as vividly set forth as ever it was by Aeschylus or Shakespeare.” New York Times
“Perhaps the finest study of American social life, certainly the strongest and most artistic novel of the year.” San Francisco Chronicle, 1905
“Wharton is mercilessly frank as she chronicles Lily’s fall from grace, contrasting psychological insights with descriptions of external effects…Wharton shows us exactly how women like Lily could be smothered by the upper reaches of society, where individual tragedies are easily subsumed by the current of other people lives.” Guardian (London)
“Wharton’s characters leap out from the pages and…become very real. You know their hearts, souls and yearnings, and the price they pay for those yearnings.” San Francisco Examiner
“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.” AudioFile
“Fields’ rendition vivifies the character in such a way that they become lifelong companions in one’s mind.” Booklist
“The performance by Fields is a perfect balance of energy and subtlety, lending and authenticity that is in keeping with Wharton’s vibrant prose style.” Kliatt

Reviews

Reviews

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: 13.73
Audience: Adult
Language: English