Synopses & Reviews
The 1905 publication of The House of Mirth provided its author with her first literary success. A writer in many genres, Edith Wharton set her second novel amid the hitherto-unexplored literary territory of fashionable New York society. From her privileged position among the Gotham smart set, Wharton viewed the hypocrisy of her social circle and embodied its destructive effects in this tale of Lily Bart. Impoverished but well-born, Lily's future relies upon obtaining a wealthy husband. Her downfall begins with a romantic indiscretion, intensifies with an accumulation of gambling debts, and climaxes in a maelstrom of social disasters. Wharton's clear-eyed observations of the savagery beneath the well-bred surface of high society, along with her compelling gifts as a storyteller, make her works perennially popular. This novel, along with Wharton's The Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome (also available in Dover editions), have been produced as much-acclaimed movies in recent years.
Wharton's first literary success, set amid fashionable New York society, reveals the hypocrisy and destructive effects of the city's social circle on the character of Lily Bart. Impoverished but well-born, Lily must secure her future by acquiring a wealthy husband; but her downfall — initiated by a romantic indiscretion — results in gambling debts and social disasters.
A bestseller when it was originally published nearly a century ago, Wharton's first literary success was set amid the previously unexplored territory of fashionable, turn-of-the-century New York society, an area with which she was intimately familiar.
The tragic love story reveals the destructive effects of wealth and social hypocrisy on Lily Bart, a ravishing beauty. Impoverished but well-born, Lily realizes a secure future depends on her acquiring a wealthy husband. Her downfall begins with a romantic indiscretion, intensifies with an accumulation of gambling debts, and climaxes in a maelstrom of social disasters.
More a tale of social exclusion than of failed love, The House of Mirth reveals Wharton's compelling gifts as a storyteller and her clear-eyed observations of the savagery beneath the well-bred surface of high society. As with The Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome, this novel was also made into a successful motion picture.