The House of Mirth Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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The House of Mirth is the story of Lily Bart, a penniless woman of the high society of New York City, who was raised and educated to become wife to a wealthy man, a hothouse flower for conspicuous consumption. As an unattached woman with gambling debts and an uncertain future, Lily is destroyed by the society who created her. Written in the style of a novel of manners, the writing itself is an illustration of American literary naturalism.
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|Listening Length||13 hours|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||June 26, 2019|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #118,666 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#4,756 in Women's Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#36,565 in Women's Literature & Fiction
Top reviews from the United States
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In this tragic and realistic tale we have more than a frilly story of a poor little rich girl, we have an elevated cast of characters with the familiar complexity of personalities that Mrs. Wharton excelled in creating for her readers. She was known for her biting commentary and after reading a good listing of her magnetic titles; The House of Mirth seems to be her darkest examination about the other side of the door of the grand houses on Fifth Avenue versus the comedic satire that wonderfully twirls together the first part of The Buccaneers . In this story we experience various emotional and passionate pages of: happiness, greed, love, jealousy and endless possibilities of hope and lines of regret and despair. The further you sink into the elegantly crafted world Mrs. Wharton has painted with such striking and commanding strokes of events; the more you will never forget those moments. I know I never have or will and I couldn’t have found a better way to let 2015 go with style and reflection than revisiting the complex journey of emotions and trials that beautifully dwells in this understated classic. Highly Recommend.
I was looking for something light to read before bed similar to Jane Austen (who is lovely) and found this recommended on a blog. This is /not/ a pleasant and witty story (unlike every Austen book). I worked my way through it to the end in hopes that something good might happen, but alas.
This is in the spirit of the Bronte sisters, wordy like Rebecca (by De Maurier) but without the excitement, and with the tedium and slowness of Mrs. Dalloway.
If you are a Jane Austen fan looking for something fresh to read, I recommend Middlemarch by George Eliot. If you are looking for something pleasant to read before bed, A Room with a View was good for that (though kind of boring).
I dumped House of Mirth in my donation box as soon as I finished it because none of us need this depressing and dull story.
Top reviews from other countries
On the eligible but tedious bachelor, Percy Gryce: ‘Mr. Gryce was like a merchant whose warehouses are crammed with an unmarketable commodity.’
On Lily’s aunt, Mrs Peniston: ‘To attempt to bring her into active relation with life was like tugging at a piece of furniture which has been screwed to the floor.’
‘It was the “simple country wedding” to which guests are conveyed in special trains, and from which the hordes of the uninvited have to be fended off by the intervention of the police.’
‘Lily presently saw Mrs. Bry cleaving her determined way through the doors, and, in the broad wake she left, the light figure of Mrs. Fisher bobbing after her like a row-boat at the stern of a tug.’
And I have to mention the elegance of the writing that can convey so much in just a few sentences. For example, as Lily observes those she has regarded as friends: ‘That very afternoon they had seemed full of brilliant qualities; now she saw that they were merely dull in a loud way. Under the glitter of their opportunities she saw the poverty of their achievement.’
Throughout the book, my sympathy was always with Lily and the situation she finds herself in. Yes, she has a role which is largely confined to being an ‘adornment’ to the social scene. However, I admired her determination to use the gifts she has been given, even if that does involve a degree of manipulation. Unfortunately, an entirely innocent action and a chance meeting set in motion a chain of events that put Lily in the power of others, risking her future happiness. Lily believes her beauty allows her to manipulate men but, sadly, she finds it is she who is being manipulated because of a mistake and the need to maintain her social status because of her (relative) poverty.
It transpires that navigating the social scene is akin to a game of snakes and ladders. Working your way up takes time, requires skill in order to cultivate contacts and involves being seen in the right places with the right people. ‘She had been fashioned to adorn and delight; to what other end does nature round the rose-leaf and paint the humming-bird’s breast? And was it her fault that the purely decorative mission is less easily and harmoniously fulfilled among social beings than in the world of nature?’ However, one misstep, one troublesome rumour or item of mischievous gossip and you can slide down very quickly. ‘Lily had the doomed sense of the castaway who has signalled in vain to fleeing sails.’
Very few of the characters in the book come out well. So-called friends (I’m looking at you, Mrs. Fisher) prove to be anything but in Lily’s hour of need – because they are too timid, too afraid of what others will say or possess ulterior motives.
I’ll confess, I was unprepared for the impact the ending had on me. Part of me could understand why Lily did what she did and part of me wished she had found the strength to take another course. The romantic in me wanted another outcome altogether which, I’ll admit, would not have been true to the spirit of what the author was trying to communicate in the book. Call me an old softy.
This will definitely not be the last book by Edith Wharton I read. What an amazing author to have discovered; even more amazing when you realise The House of Mirth was Wharton’s first published novel.
Here then we meet Lily Bart, who when growing up was of a wealthy enough family, her mother always taking her on holidays to Europe and so on. But then the father, who seems to work all the time to support his wife and daughter goes bust, and soon dies and this is followed by her mother. An orphan so she is brought up then by her aunt. Lily has a problem though as she was initially brought up and intended to be the sparkling socialite that she has now been robbed from becoming, and at twenty-nine is really in need of a good husband, or that is what was considered at the time.
Of course, Americans are keen on telling us all that there is no class structure as such in their country, but of course this is not quite true, it is just structured differently to ours. Titles and such pomp do not play a part, but money and success do, as well as having connections and a face that fits. Lily like everyone else is expected to follow the conventions of the period, by hooking an eligible male, as well as to perpetuate the snobbery that goes on. She does have someone who would be really good for her in some respects, although like her he is not exactly wealthy, there is also someone who is more than wealthy, and wants her because as a Jew he needs to have someone of the social elite to be seen as respectable.
For Miss Bart though, she starts to realise that if you want to live life on your own terms the establishment of New York will reject you. It is into this world that Lily finds herself drifting, after all she has debts, has been compromised unintentionally, and is in a feud of sorts with another woman of her class.
Here then Edith Wharton combines satire with the novel of manners to create something that was very true of the period, and indeed to a certain extent still true in many ways of today’s world. The genre which we recognise as a novel of manners was of course dominated by the British, after all just think of Jane Austen and others. By transposing this to America and showing that there is a class system of sorts, so an extra layer of realism is added, and we are shown how certain sections of society behave, and indeed do still so act. At the end of the book, we are left to decide for ourselves how much of what happens to Lily is her own fault, and how much is down to others.
Beautifully written and perceptively observed, Edith Wharton's story of New York society and the lives of the rich and idle, juxtaposed with the lot of the much less wealthy and those who fall by the wayside, makes for a compelling read. Aside from the story's main protagonists, this novel is filled with a whole cast of interesting characters and is it easy to become drawn right into Lily Barton's life and watch her as she travels towards her downfall. Although, as bystanders, we can see the mistakes Lily is making and we may become exasperated with her for her foolhardiness, Lily is not as shallow as she initially seems, she does have scruples and she avoids taking others down with her, and the reader (or this one anyhow) feels for her in her predicament. First published in 1905 and one of Edith Wharton's best novels, this is a poignant and resonant story and one to read, to think about and to then put back in the bookcase to read again later. Recommended.
The finale was predictably tragic for the age old lament of haplessly ignoring golden opportunities.