Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Age of Innocence

"In reality they all lived in a kind of hieroglyphic world, where the real thing was never said or done or even thought, but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs."

I feel like this quote pretty much says it all as far as "The Age of Innocence" is concerned. Anna got this book at Christmastime about 4 or 5 years ago when we did a book swap with Matthew. I've always intended to read it, and when I told her I was finally getting around to it she just gave me an odd look and said something like "Oh." I was confused about her lack of enthusiasm, but after reading the book I completely understand. It's a wonderfully written book, extremely witty, thoughtful and insightful, but it left me feeling depressed.
When I read a book I like to have at least one character with whom I sympathize, but in this book I couldn't really find anyone. I guess I felt for May, but that may have been just because she was Wharton's punching bag throughout the book. Newland and the Countess seemed to be Wharton's little pets who couldn't say and do enough clever and brilliant things.
I kept wondering if Newland would have been different if his father had been alive. I have no idea what kind of a person his father would have been, but maybe it would have changed the dynamics of the Archer household. I feel like Newland was a momma's boy even though he didn't love or respect his mother.
Even though I had mostly negative emotions during (and after) my reading of this book, I think I would still recommend it. Wharton has a talent for getting the most out of every sentence she writes. She has a very witty and dry style that I did enjoy. I think one sign of a good book is that when you finish it you are dying to discuss it with others who have read it, and that was definitely true for me with this book. Sometime I would like to watch the movie adaptation, I've read that it is really beautiful. I will end with another quote from the book that is a great representation of Wharton's insightful humor. It made me laugh, because even over 100 years later it is so true! I'm thinking of the rush to beat the crowd out of a Brave's game, or Tennessee game, etc.

"It was one of the great livery-stableman's most masterly intuitions to have discovered that Americans want to get away from amusement even more quickly than they want to get to it."

I am hoping to do a post soon about "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" which I recently read, and loved! I may eventually do a Madeline L'engle post where I review "A Wrinkle in Time" and the first 2 books of the Austin Family Chronicles (which I am in the middle of reading right now). And then, some shining day I will finish "Tarzan of the Apes" and I can do the Tarzan/Betsy Tacy post that I have been longing to write! =) I'm on chapter 23 or 24.....so I'm getting to the homestretch! Well, I think that's all for this post, so long!