The unexpected thing about this story, for me, was seeing that the "age" being referred to was not only about a certain time of life, but also about a point in history where one could look back to the previous generation and witness a huge gap in attitude and perception. It starts with horse-drawn buggies, hand-written notes, etc. and ends with telephones and automobiles. To see this sort of change in one's lifetime must have been really amazing.
There is also a Scorsese film version of this with Daniel Day-Lewis. It's definitely worth watching but it bothered me a little that the two heroines were swapped (the raven-haired temptress in the book is played by Michelle Pheiffer).
Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy
The Age of Innocence was a daily deal and really not something that would interest me, but the reviews were all so enthusiastic that I had to give it a try.
Horovitch narrated it so wonderfully, I wasn't the least bit bothered by his English accent for New York characters. I will admit I did laugh out loud at another reviewer's comment about Countess Oleska sounding like she was from Transylvania. Despite that little blip, it was a perfect narration.
I particularly enjoyed the setting, 1870's New York City. The upper class families with their restrictive societal-driven behaviors fascinated me. I loved the description by Wharton of May and Ellen's grandmother, Mrs. Manson Mingott. It had me chuckling to myself as she described in detail Mingott's utterly fleshy state!
I had hopes for different decisions on Newland Archer's part, but it seems he was greatly limited by societal restraints of the day and of his class as mentioned above. It was a very unusual threesome, something that would never play out in this day and age of immediate gratification. And yet, I loved every minute of this book. It was an enjoyable and amusing listen for me.
Tell us about yourself!
romantic love squared
portrayal of the life style of the new york in the 19th century
all the characters - he does it so well - they each have such distinct voices
just a very tight story about a family and an era and a society that was beautifully and insightfully written
A well crafted story about 'the eternal triangle,' with an unforeseen conclusion. Edith Wharton paints her characters realistically, to the point where I felt as though I was personally involved with their story. David Horovith's narration greatly enhanced the pleasure of the listen. A book I will certainly re-read at a future date.
Retired to mountains of California. Sell on eBay as Prsilla. No TV. Volunteer in wildlife rehab. Knit, sew or embroider while listening.
This gorgeous novel will be like watching paint dry for many people. A few years ago I would have thrown the print version across the room unless of course it were a college assignment. I was too impatient and too passionate for this stuff! Now I find this literature delicious. The narrator is wonderful, dropping down to nearly a whisper when he is voicing the main character's thoughts while the main character is in the same elegant room with his terribly correct blond wife. [This is done in music: dropping to a pale thread of melody for emphasis.] I love Mr. Horovitch's voice, and I feel sure he would have fit right in with these 1870's New York mucky-mucks! I found no flaws in his reading. After two listens, I can only appreciate how much I still didn't get. And not his fault; I was attempting some fiddly knitting! As to the Countess' foreign accent, I've known women who grew up in the U.S. but sounded French or Irish, a bit quaint, maybe because they didn't watch TV or stoop to saying "yeah" and "gonna go" and "gotta go"! One was Canadian-born, very spiritual, had worked in legal, so of course her speech patterns were unique. The Countess had lived overseas for many years. When you're speaking English to foreigners, you try to avoid slang and speak clearly so they can understand. Practiced over years, this would make someone sound a bit odd. At any rate, this little accent helps to portray the exotic and exciting appeal of the countess to the main character who loves the countess but married the correct boring blond that his family approved of. And that is the story: which woman, how, why?
Wharton's masterpiece explores an idea that I have heard called "negative good," i.e., staying out of trouble, being very cautious and correct, never impulsive, looking good to one's social set, never making trouble, setting a good example. My friend's French chef boyfriend ran a fancy private club "and nobody got sick" she told me. Okay, but was the food really good? Did he revise the menu or redecorate or greet people? A relative was hoping to work as an arson investigator, and boy was he squeaky-clean with a frightening kind of correctness, always holding back the good deeds that others reach out to do with such passion. Activists and child welfare workers may often appear unkempt. Our main character is fascinated by the brunet Countess and marries the safe and predictable blond who enjoys sport but has no use for literature, art museums, the life of the mind. The Countess wants a divorce, which would cause unpleasantness for -- oh, All New York Society -- and what would people think? It just is not done! And so . . . at one point late in the book, a farewell dinner is given by the blond wife for the Countess, who is going back to Paris to live, alone, no Polish count husband but not divorced, either. And with a female companion of course! As the guests converse politely and toast the Countess, the main character suddenly realizes that they all assume he and the Countess had been lovers! The wife is far more clever than he had guessed! And the two had been so good! They had suffered so much! And sacrificed. The book then moves forward many years, ideas change, lifestyles change, and the Countess comes back in briefly. Other listeners will have as many ideas about this classic as there are listeners and repeated listens. Save time for the last two hours, and especially the last four minutes.
I bought this book on sale and wasn't really sure I was going to get into it, but I found myself quickly attracted to the struggles of the main character. It was easy to be swept along with Archer from youth and optimism, from thinking that the world and society could be anything that you might make of it, from believing you can determine your own fate, to the realization that society will find a way to mold you into a thing that fits. It's a slow, inexorable decline, and I felt for him every step of the way. I was almost in tears at the end, which is pretty rare for me. Now, I can definitely see classrooms of high school students hating this book as they are forced into essays about 'the role of flowers as gifts' or 'social norms versus trends' but outside the classroom setting, I quite liked it.
The narrator did a mostly adequate job, but I'm not sure why they had a British narrator do the definitely American story. Why not get an American? Horovitch tried an American accent for the dialogue, but didn't do a great job, I don't know anyone who puts an 'r' sound after vowels. No one I know would pronounce it "Olensker".
Edith Wharton's writing is perfection. Crisp, creative adjectives. I've read it twice in the past. Listening is even better because you can't be in a hurry to finish the chapter. You hear every nuanced word.
An educator and senior who listens to his books from his phone through his hearing aids.
In my early college days I took a course in British literature from Dr Wyatt, who told me that history records the events, biographies, and ideas of previous years while literature communicates the emotions and thinking of the participants in those times. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton validates Dr. Wyatt's hypothesis. In 1921, Edith Wharton was the first female author to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature.
Wharton uses many literary devices to communicate the culture of the very rich during the Gilded Age. Her word pictures are created with multi syllable pretentious words that reflect the pretentions of wealthy of that time. Her discussion of characters repeatedly describe subtle failures to meet the norms of their society. For instance, One of her characters gossips about another who is so low class that her bedroom is on the first floor of her mansion as opposed to more appropriately being on the second floor. The Age of Innocence captures with every page how many culture customs and sanctions people a part of that small and short lived period of history had to master to remain in good standing. The language makes the reader feel the repression of feelings that everyone was expected to exhibit. Because the story spans a generation and focuses on one family, the reader discovers how quickly the norms and customs change. This is the universal and timeless truth that makes The Age of Innocence a classic.
Romance resisted, relished
Mrs. Dalloway. Emotionally interior navigation upperclass society
Only in samples, but this one by far the best because of the pacing
The ending - no spoilers here
I'm reviewing this book mainly because of David Horovitch's delightful performance. It's on the slow side which lets the story breath. If you tend to find yourself feeling hammered by relentless-sounding narrators, you will find this performance to be a relief. There's time to have an emotional or thoughtful reaction to the story as it unfolds and I didn't find myself losing track or zoning out. As I like to paint while I listen to audio books so my attention is split and variable, I sometimes find classic books that I would enjoy in print "too hard" to be enjoyable as audiobooks. Horovitch breathes life into this story in a way that it never feels dull, dry or sluggish...though of course the credit here must be shared with Edith Wharton. Her wry depiction of the New York high society mores of the late 19th century century feels fresh and relevant to our present time. I wish there were more performances of this caliber available.
The narrator is a skilled reader by most technical criteria. However, I found the overall tone inappropriate for a novel of manners. There is a humorless sense of foreboding that might work in a horror novel but lost me. Although I was enjoying the content I could not get through more than a couple of chapters