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The Old Maid | [Edith Wharton]

The Old Maid

The story follows the life of Tina, a young woman caught between the mother who adopted her - the beautiful, upstanding Delia - and her true mother, her plain, unmarried ‘aunt’ Charlotte, who gave Tina up to provide her with a socially acceptable life. The three women live quietly together until Tina’s wedding day, when Delia’s and Charlotte’s hidden jealousies rush to the surface.
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Publisher's Summary

The story follows the life of Tina, a young woman caught between the mother who adopted her - the beautiful, upstanding Delia - and her true mother, her plain, unmarried ‘aunt’ Charlotte, who gave Tina up to provide her with a socially acceptable life.

The three women live quietly together until Tina’s wedding day, when Delia’s and Charlotte’s hidden jealousies rush to the surface. Originally serialized in The Red Book magazine in 1922, The Old Maid is an examination of class and society as only Edith Wharton could undertake.

©2010 BBC Audiobooks Ltd (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (261 )
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4.2 (226 )
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Story
4.3 (223 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Anita San Francisco, CA, United States 06-13-10
    Anita San Francisco, CA, United States 06-13-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Touching story, well read"

    Edith Wharton doesn't disappoint. This story is not long, but it is packed with insight, and beautifully written. Eleanor Bron does a fine job of interpreting the text.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ilana Montreal, Quebec, Canada 12-10-13
    Ilana Montreal, Quebec, Canada 12-10-13 Member Since 2015

    Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The More I Read Edith Wharton..."

    As I mentioned recently somewhere, the more I read Edith Wharton the more I love her, which is saying a lot since I was instantly smitten when I started reading my first book by her, The House of Mirth. I’ve read a couple of her novels and some of her shorter works since, but this is the first short story I've read of hers so far, and I can see why she was considered a master of the form. This story is included in the Old New York collection and I'm counting is as an individual work since I got it as an audiobook and am shamelessly making up the numbers to reach 150 books this year. Set in the 1850s, and I should specify in Edith Wharton's 50s, that is to say, the Old New York of the top of the upper crust of distinguished family names, splendour, old money and stifling social conventions, it tells the story of two cousins, one pretty and married, the other rather plain and unwed and mother to an illegitimate little girl. Charlotte, who is about to be married into the same respectable family as her cousin Mrs. Deliah Ralston, confides to her cousin and begs for her help, as she fears that her marriage will separate her from her secret love child Tina forever. Deliah, whose first loyalty goes to her family by marriage, ensures that the wedding plans are cancelled to prevent the scandal from attaching itself to the too respectable Ralstons, though she promises to take care of Tina herself. Years go by, Deliah is widowed, the cousins live together, and Tina is now a very attractive girl of marriageable age. Charlotte is known to the girl as 'Aunt Charlotte the old maid', and she affectionately considers Deliah to be her mother, and of course the secret of her real origins are unknown to her. The two older women have found this to be the best compromise, but there are unexpressed jealousies and resentments seething under the surface, which suddenly erupt when a young man starts making too frequent visits to the house. When Wharton wrote this story, it was already relegated to historical fiction, describing mores that had been long out of fashion, but the core of the tale is timeless, telling of love and passion and the mysteries of motherly love and the bonds that unify women. I couldn't help but shed a sentimental tear or two at the end, and perhaps it is a sentimental story, but they should all be so well told.

    30 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    murray LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 12-19-14
    murray LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 12-19-14 Member Since 2007

    Tell us about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "sorry it ended so soon"
    If you could sum up The Old Maid in three words, what would they be?

    elegant clarity of language


    What did you like best about this story?

    the truthfulness of the characters and the way time is treated


    Which character – as performed by Eleanor Bron – was your favorite?

    not the old maid but the real hero of the story


    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beverly Naples, NY, United States 08-14-10
    Beverly Naples, NY, United States 08-14-10 Member Since 2010
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    "A Superb Tale"

    I thoughly enjoyed this wonderful story read with such care by Eleanor Bron. Fans of Edith Wharton should enjoy this immensely.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    susan k massey 03-28-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Classic Wharton"

    Excellent story and one of Wharton's best for quickly moving plot and characters accessible to modern readers. Narration was seamless!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Queenmum 03-28-15
    Queenmum 03-28-15 Member Since 2011
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    "A beautiful story by an under appreciated writer"

    The society of the late 19th century is as alien to young people of today as the craters of the moon. This lovely and penetrating story pulls back the curtain for a moment. I hope young listeners will have the patience for a writing style that is no longer practiced but is masterly. The narrator could not have been better.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daphne 03-28-15
    Daphne 03-28-15 Member Since 2010
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    "The story shouldn't end"

    This story was sad. It was also too short. I wish it had been longer. I enjoyed the suspense. I would tell others

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A User Birmingham, AL, United States 03-27-15
    A User Birmingham, AL, United States 03-27-15 Member Since 2012

    Lake lover

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyable"

    I'm glad this book was brought to my attention by the daily deal. The contraints of social pressure controlled life with an iron hand in society of that era.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Quitman, GA, United States 03-27-15
    Deborah Quitman, GA, United States 03-27-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Classic Edith W"

    Enjoyed this little gem.
    Calm, self- assured narration much appreciated . More of these shorts would be most welcome by me

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L.W. Idabel, OK, United States 03-27-15
    L.W. Idabel, OK, United States 03-27-15 Member Since 2012

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wharton wrote it...."
    What made the experience of listening to The Old Maid the most enjoyable?

    If the author is Wharton it is a classic. This story has been told before and since but each author shares their particular flavor of writing.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Old Maid?

    For me it is the question of why the girl cannot be beloved by both. For she was beloved by both. Why does there always have to be a bad guy. I understood the emotional struggle but just once can we not write a story in which all are magnamous.
    *The moment Adeline makes the decision Charlotte cannot marry. And follows thru on that decision by changing the rest of her life. I had to wonder about the emotions leading to that. That could have been the wall remaining a lifetime. Maybe Charlotte regretted sharing her secret with her most trusted relative. Or maybe she savored telling her. This book could be discussed a lot.


    Have you listened to any of Eleanor Bron’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This was my first with this narrator. I had some problems separating the characters by sound.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes I did.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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