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The Custom of the Country | [Edith Wharton]

The Custom of the Country

Edith Wharton stands among the finest writers of early 20th-century America. In The Custom of the Country, Wharton’s scathing social commentary is on full display through the beautiful and manipulative Undine Spragg. When Undine convinces her nouveau riche parents to move to New York, she quickly injects herself into high society. But even a well-to-do husband isn’t enough for Undine, whose overwhelming lust for wealth proves to be her undoing.
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Publisher's Summary

The first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for literature, Edith Wharton stands among the finest writers of early 20th-century America. In The Custom of the Country, Wharton’s scathing social commentary is on full display through the beautiful and manipulative Undine Spragg. When Undine convinces her nouveau riche parents to move to New York, she quickly injects herself into high society. But even a well-to-do husband isn’t enough for Undine, whose overwhelming lust for wealth proves to be her undoing.

Public Domain (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC

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  •  
    Esther United States 07-29-12
    Esther United States 07-29-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Cannot recommend a better narrator!"

    Edith Wharton's novel is deliciously enjoyable, especially if you delight in watching detestable characters crush one another and see people behave more brutishly and vulgarly than you could have expected. By "people" I primarily mean the wonderfully named Undine Spragg, a social climber who bulldozes as many people as she can to attain an ever escaping, ever elusive goal of social grandeur and wealth. Wharton's satiric, witty, whip-smart writing fairly sparkles here, and the entire novel has lighter touch, perhaps because about half of it is in the mind of a buffoon, rather than the plodding Archer of Age of Innocence, for example.

    But I really want to write about Barbara Caruso here, who should narrate EVERYTHING. She reads with warmth, humor, wit, and imparts an incredible understanding of each of the characters. I wonder about the difficulty of being a reader—she has to play every role, and she does so splendidly. Conflicted characters like Undine, whom one would normally expect to hate, are given depth and conviction. Brava.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katrina Rushville, IN, United States 03-28-13
    Katrina Rushville, IN, United States 03-28-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not worthy to be called a "Classic" to me"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Someone who enjoys hearing about the manners and dress of that period of time for the rich and doesn't mind that there isn't a real story to frame it against. It seems more interest in telling the customs of a country like the title says than in telling a story.


    Has The Custom of the Country turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, though I don't think I would be interested in reading or listening to any of Edith Wharton's books.


    What does Barbara Caruso bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    It wasn't the reader's fault the book didn't come alive. She tried hard but you can't add interest with just the inflections of your voice if the story is so flat.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Boredom and disappointment. I keep waiting for the story to go deeper and some sort of plot to surface which it never did. It came as a relief when it ended. And I was very disappointed that it spent so much time on describing clothes, the way the rich would travel to place to place without opening the characters up so that they would seem real instead of the flat forgettable characters she wrote. Seemed to touch the surface of something that could be interesting and would bounce off in another direction.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    murray LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 10-29-12
    murray LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 10-29-12 Member Since 2007

    Tell us about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "slow starter but picks up"
    Where does The Custom of the Country rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    it's right up there with the best but didn't quite satisfy as much as eliot's mill on the floss.


    What did you like best about this story?

    the character undine never ceased to surprise but she got almost everything she wanted


    Did Barbara Caruso do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    excellent


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    kept an amused smile on my face and i came close to tears with the story of the unwanted child


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-3 of 3 results
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  • Philip
    Tonbridge, United Kingdom
    6/26/13
    Overall
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    "Thick and absorbing"

    I was looking for another Edith Wharton and listened to all the 'samples' of 'The Custom of the Country' and thought that this one sounded like the best narration.

    I often find the scruples of Wharton's characters rather difficult to sympathize with- so it was something of a relief to come across Undine Spragg- who has no scruples at all- she's just a naive, selfish monster battling (rather pathetically) towards a happiness that always lies just beyond her. Certainly she's repulsive but it makes for an interesting character. - and there is plenty of gorgeous period detail along the way.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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