Avid listener on my daily commute!
With only a few caveats having to do with the audio recording (there are a few glitches) and the narrator's annoying vocal volume decreases for several characters (be prepared to have to replay certain lines and adjust the volume from time to time), I loved this book and looked forward to every opportunity to listen. I've read it before, and adore the excellent Scorcese film with Michelle Pfeiffer, but each exposure to the riches of Wharton's literary jewel brings something new to think about and appreciate. This time, I went back and forth on the issue of who's to blame for Newland Archer's predicament. Archer is his own worst enemy, certainly, and the chain of misfortunes leading to his downfall is sparked by his tendency to be, as my own sweetheart and erstwhile partner in illicit romance put it, "always just a little too late to realize what's really going on" in his own head and heart. This tendency (along with several O. Henry-like twists) is what primarily does him in. But what about New York society, which, anything but innocently, ensnares Archer like a fly in an inescapable web of silently condoned enforced conformity? And what about May? What about her Machiavellian manipulations toward the end of the novel, if not the beginning?
I found myself during this reading doing something I haven't been the least bit tempted to do since my English-major days: I studied up on the literary criticism. I found out that over
the years, the interpretation and critical analysis of The Age of Innocence has changed, keeping step with the attitudes of the times. When the novel was first published, readers and critics alike supported Newland's decisions and May's actions. May's enormous lie to Ellen about her pregnancy was either overlooked or judged to be justified given her circumstances. Ellen, "the other woman," received no sympathy. In 1921, when The Age of Innocence was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the committee declared that The Age of Innocence "best present[ed] the wholesome atmosphere of American life and the highest standard of American manners and manhood." (REALLY, Pulitzer committee? REALLY??) Even Wharton was taken aback when reviewers failed to see the irony of the novel's title and her (only thinly veiled) social criticism of 1870s New York society. Currently, Wharton's book is admired as a "modern" novel. Sympathy is extended to Ellen as an independent woman, and more criticism is leveled at May's manipulative ways. Feminists cheer Ellen's independence and values; critics generally note that in the entire novel, it may be Ellen and Ellen alone who is innocent in any sense of the word. The varying interpretations but consistent fascination the love-story triangle have made The Age of Innocence a timeless classic.
This certainly won't be my last time listening. Grade: A
Addicted to books, both print and audio-.
for having ignored Edith Wharton all these years. What a gifted and intelligent writer! I've never had much interest in novels about upper-crust society types, in whatever age and location, but this book is so much more than that. Wharton is a master of character study, of dialogue, of imagery, and of exquisite prose. I sometimes miss a sentence or two because I'm thinking about how beautiful the last one was. I found this a very engaging and compelling read. David Horovitch's narration is simply exquisite. His pacing is superb; it is so lovely to have a narrator take time with the language.
I've also recently finished Ethan Frome (George Guidall's narration, which was fine) and The House of Mirth (Barbara Caruso, excellent), both of which I recommend highly. Sheesh, this woman could write novels! I'm very much looking forward to the rest of her books.
Absolutely. It's a deeply moving, extremely witty, beautifully told story, peopled with extraordinarily vivid characters. It's also an exceptionally detailed portrait of a time and place (1870s New York City among the extremely wealthy). And it's narrated just about perfectly.
Newland Archer, because he is so completely realized as a character and because his journey is so gracefully and intelligently conveyed.
No, but I will certainly seek him out. He managed to convey not only Wharton's sly humor but also a real compassion for the characters he was playing. It's a wonderful, sensitive, thoughtful performance.
So many! Two come to mind: the carriage ride Newland and the Countess Olenska take in May's carriage late in the story, and the moment at that last dinner when Newland realizes what everyone around the table is thinking about him, and what they are trying to communicate to him. And of course the ending, so fitting and so moving.
What a great story. I hung on every word. Enjoyed this audible book.
When narrator tried to sound like a female I would laugh to myself, but how else could he do????
Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.
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.
I chose this book because I liked the movie & as they say the book is usually better than the movie. This holds true for this book. The narrator was very good and the story held my attention.
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".