The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton, Maureen Howard

Edith Wharton may get me fired.

 

After starting this book during my lunch break today,  I could not put it down. While only attending to the most immediate needs of my occupation, I managed tor read chapter after chapter stealthily on my my phone.

 

The problem with this (other than the blatant disregard of my responsibility) was that I was transported so thoroughly that, when interrupted, it took me several seconds of blank-faced 'ummmmmm' to bring my brain back to the here and now..

 

Sad thing is that if called into my boss's office and reprimanded, I might have said,

 

"oh, okay....yikes...but have you read The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton??"

 

 

I can't really decide where to start, and I'm barely at first blush.

 

Okay, here's a favorite thing so far - Archer's caricatures of two characters:

 

Of Mrs. Manson Mingott

 

"The immense accretion of flesh which had descended on her in middle life like a flood of lava on a doomed city had changed her from a plump active little woman with a neatly-turned foot and ankle into something as vast and august as a natural phenomenon."

 

and of Mrs. van der Luyden:

 

"She always, indeed, struck Newland Archer as having been rather gruesomely preserved in the airless atmosphere of perfectly irreproachable existence, as bodies caught in glaciers keep for years a rosy life-in-death."

 These slayed me.

 

I'm amazingly sympathetic to Archer, who doesn't really know how he feels and seems deeply conflicted...should woman be free, Archer, or are they harlots? This is perhaps the biggest surprise upon starting this novel - that I find Archer complex and sympathetic. He's not a stale portrait created to prove a point. He seems very alive to me right now.

 

I'm happily flying through very artful and somewhat complicated prose. I've highlighted to define many, many words (which is always the humbling part of reading a classic) but it's been so satisfying so far!