Posts Tagged ‘Edith Wharton’

Two of a Kind?

Sunday, 25 May 2008

I just finished listening to two classic books, courtesy of the volunteers over at Librivox. Each is set a century or so ago, about young people being sheltered from the big bad world around them, while they think they are coming into a freer world. There, I think, the similarities end. (Other than the authors’ first names, of course!)

132. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

I had never come across this before being recommended to it on Ravelry, months and months ago, apart from seeing posters for the film of a few years ago. I haven’t seen the film itself, however. Brenda Dayne‘s reading was itself deservedly highly recommended to me, and I would second that.

The rarefied, stultified, atmosphere of upper class New York society is all Newland Archer seems to expect or want, until his fiancee May’s accepted-but-verging-on-scandalous cousin, the Countess Olenska (looked down upon nearly as much for having married a European – and a nobleman, at that! – as for having left said husband) reappears in New York, inciting all of Archer’s restlessness and dissatisfaction with the society he has grown up in and the part he is expected to play in it, and becoming his obsession.

I was never convinced the Countess was as smitten with Newland as he was with her, but perhaps she just cared far more for all of the people they were all connected with than he did, if caring far less for their conventions. 

133. The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit

The Railway Children live in a very different kind of innocence, where they do their best to help all those around them, and believe the best of them, while being protected from those who might try to look down upon them. The legal system might believe the worst of their very honourable father, but somehow, no-one ever seems able to do so of them. And, of course, their intentions always are good, no matter the scrapes they get into.