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The Custom of the Country | [Edith Wharton]

The Custom of the Country

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. As she climbs the class ladder through a series of marriages and affairs, she shows little concern for who she has to step on.
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Publisher's Summary

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. As she climbs the class ladder through a series of marriages and affairs, she shows little concern for who she has to step on. Her rise to the top of New York's elite society provides a poignant and scathing commentary on the unquenchable ambitions of America's nouveau riche.

(P)1995 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Of all Edith Wharton's novels, The Custom of the Country is my absolute favorite....Grace Collin's reading of Blackstone's unabridged version is splendid, her voice fruity, elegant and utterly ruthless." (Forbes)
Named a Staff Pick, Selected by the Staff at the Mid-Manhattan Branch of the New York Public Library, November, 2007

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (63 )
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Overall
4.1 (24 )
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Story
4.3 (24 )
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Performance
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  •  
    D. L. Lederman Iowa USA 05-24-10
    D. L. Lederman Iowa USA 05-24-10 Member Since 2013

    leahiniowa

    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    38
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    "Narrator kills the book"

    Perhaps it was because I had just listened to an amazing rendition of The House of Mirth by Anna Fields, but I could not get through more than 10-15 minutes of this book before I had to shut it off. This book is literally read, not interpreted in any way, thus making it extremely difficult to follow conversation, not to mention narration of setting or insights into characters' motivations. Find a reading by someone else. That's what I plan to do. And from now on, I am listening to the sample of a book if I don't recognize the narrator!

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrea Linz, Austria 11-09-10
    Andrea Linz, Austria 11-09-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    106
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    183
    119
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    8
    0
    Overall
    "an ordeal"

    The work is regarded an American classic and given the time of publication (1913) one still has to congratulate the author on her boldness to write about such an extraordinarily unsympathetic female protagonist.
    Naturally social patterns have greatly changed since the book was written but Undine's unmorality is still palpable though in a different context. Undine get's older but there is not the slightest moral or intellectual development, that is grueling.
    Still the book is well set and written though devoid of any (modern day) twists in the plot; the pace is on the slower side.
    The narration is well done, the narration managed to keep track with the numerous characters.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-2 of 2 results
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  • Beverley
    Cwmbran, Gwent, United Kingdom
    12/13/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Subtly but Extraordinarily Insightful"
    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I don't know that I had a favourite character - there were lots of characters I felt profound sympathy for, but I don't think there were any really admirable people in the book.


    What three words best describe Grace Conlin’s voice?

    Staid, hesitant, satisfactory.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Something about how far someone could go for what they want.


    Any additional comments?

    The main character, Undine Spragg, is completely selfish and ruthlessly sets out to get what she wants (money and social standing) without any concern for anyone else's health or wellbeing. She occasionally exhibits a bit of sentimental concern, but it has no real depth. Her beauty and manipulation do get her what she wants, but then those things don't fulfill her for long and she starts plotting her next selfish moves... However, astonishingly, I spent quite a lot of the book feeling sorry for her. She is simply completely unaware of what is really important in people's lives (trust, caring, etc). I suppose she's a psychopath. I was stunned at her coldness, and yet I pitied her inability to see beyond the narrow confines of her overwhelming and selfish needs. I have never read or listened to anything by Edith Wharton before, but I will definitely do so again.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Elizabeth Davies
    1/4/11
    Overall
    "I gave up ..."

    My least favourite book by Edith Wharton, I found it totally uninteresting and abandoned it within an hour.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-2 of 2 results

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