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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Discussion for The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

122 comments:

Jenny ESP said...

Here here!

Jenny ESP said...

So much to say, don't even know what to focus on.

StandsMom said...

Hey Howdy Hey. Jenny - your review made me feel SO good about myself. Thankyousomuch!!

Jenny ESP said...

Anybody here yet?

Amanda said...

Still putting Bella to bed. Be back in five minutes or less. Please go ahead without me.

Jenny ESP said...

As did yours, Stands. It was spot on. I even felt like leaving a comment and had to restrain myself.

StandsMom said...

As a girl who never made it further than(and barely) 12th grade...yeeeah.

StandsMom said...

Foot high-five to that, for sure!

Jenny ESP said...

k, clearing throat.

How much did Archer underestimate May, eh? Jokes on him.

Jenny ESP said...

Why do you think he didn't see Ellen in the end?

StandsMom said...

Don'tcha love it when that happens? The woman knew all along - controlled the entire situation - and kept it all to herself. Nice.

StandsMom said...

I don't know. I was really disappointed. I fantcizzed this whole meeting - they're old - still hot for each other - slowly walk into each other's arms. The end.

Jenny ESP said...

I think he was finally humbled by May, and that's why. Finding out from his son that she wasn't a dumb broad, as he had always believed.

StandsMom said...

I really do think that Ellen wasn't as in love with him.

Amanda said...

Yes, May out smarted him. But why? I would have ditched the dude.

Jenny ESP said...

I still think he could end up with Ellen some day tho. Just not now.

StandsMom said...

Oh definitely. Surely it brought him down a notch or two. Spent his whole life being depressed about it and thinking she never knew. Jokes on him.

Landee said...

The old Archer & Ellen would have done it...then Archer woulda been like "If I'd known she was a virgin I woulda been more gentle." and Ellen woulda been like "If I'd have known he could still get it up, I woulda taken off my panty hose."

Just sayin!

StandsMom said...

May stayed cause that was the duty. You know? The scandal if she'd left him. Can you imagine?

Amanda said...

I guess May loved him but I didn't.

Jenny ESP said...

I think May knew it was too late. She had to stick with him, because she wouldn't choose divorce. I don't think they had an entirely unhappy marriage after that tho.

Jenny ESP said...

GP, Landee. GP.

Amanda said...

I guess I meant why did she marry him in the first place? He'd already had one affair with a married woman and if she suspected anything...I guess she did question his motives.

StandsMom said...

Edith was very obvious about completely leaving out anyANY form of intimacy between May and Archer. Didn't they do it after they got married?

StandsMom said...

They prob did. WIth all the lights off. And kissed with no tongue.

Landee said...

Btw, Jenny, your review motivated me to finish the book, despite knowing what an idiot Archer continues to be. I want to prove that I can hack the 16th grade.

Amanda said...

How did you guys feel about Ellen's marriage to the Count? And did it frustrate you that we weren't told specifically what was so horrible about her marriage. That frustrated me to no end. Any guesses what it was exactly since it was only alluded to?

Jenny ESP said...

Also, if May and Archer were doing it, and being preggo was even a possibility, how could she let Archer leave? I think she took control of the situation bc of the embryo.

StandsMom said...

Her nestingness took over.

Jenny ESP said...

I also found it interesting that May wasn't mean spirited, despite having every right to be. Like when she offered to let Archer go to Paris by himself while they were on their family trip to Europe.

Amanda said...

Did he beat her or have lots of affairs or both do you think?

Flem said...

Age of Innocence was filmed in Troy New York. I have been there.

StandsMom said...

I just cannot believe I managed a 16th grade, level 34 book in only a couple of weeks. I'm SO proud.

Landee said...

I practically lived there Flem. ((one-upping you))

StandsMom said...

I think violence would be too riskay for then, don't you? He prob just cheated on her all the time.

Landee said...

I'm guessing he beat her. As affairs seemed to run rampant.

Jenny ESP said...

Yes, read, L. Then you can brag and stuff.

StandsMom said...

Am I bragging? Ok yes. I am. A little.

Landee said...

I want to hire the Countess as an interior decorator... I mean, the way she'll just put a couple flowers in a vase rather than in bunches? TDF!

Jenny ESP said...

A--affairs between men and married women were accepted in society, for the mans part anyway. So that was no reason for her to not marry Archer. Only is Archer was in love with his mistress.

Amanda said...

I liked how Ellen was different and okay with it.

Jenny ESP said...

Lollerz!

Jenny ESP said...

Flem, did you watch the film, then?

StandsMom said...

Hey - I've missed all you girlies btw. It feels like months since our last discussion.

Flem said...

I saw the film years ago. It was kind of trashy so of course I didn't read the book due to my high standards.

Jenny ESP said...

It irritated me that Archer insisted on an expedited marriage, when he was in love with someone else that he could not marry. So selfish, and he acted like he was making a huge sacrifice.

StandsMom said...

He was hot and frustrated. Marriage was guaranteed sex. He needed it bad and soon.

Jenny ESP said...

I saw the movie ages ago too, and all I remember about it was that I hated it to the depths of my soul. So you can imagine my reluctance to read the book. The book was highly satisfying tho.

Amanda said...

What did you guys think about Newland and Ellen's relationship before they professed their desire for each other? I didn't think it was developed enough. It seemed more lustful on Newland's part and premature on Ellen's part. They really didn't have much one on one time.

Flem said...

Marriage=guaranteed sex? For women maybe.

Jenny ESP said...

But he could just get sex from his mistress.

Jenny ESP said...

He married her so he wouldn't be tempted to make a bad social move.

Landee said...

Didn't Olenski run off with her husband's secretary? So she was lezbo? (Cuz you know secretaries are always women)

Jenny ESP said...

Amanda--completely agree. It felt purely lustful to me. I didn't believe he really loved Ellen until after they met up in Boston.

Jenny ESP said...

It came out in a later chapter, that nothing physical happened between her and the secretary, who was a guy, and probably gay seeing as he had a chicks job.

StandsMom said...

Can I be snotty for a second?

Olenska is Ellen.

Olenski is her bastard husband.

Amanda said...

I'm sorry guys, my baby is still up and my hubby is gone and she's driving me nuts. I'm going to have to cut out early.

Landee said...

I, uh, totally knew that.

Landee said...

::ignoring Stands:: Olenksi wore weird dresses. And wtf with Beaufort, huh?

Jenny ESP said...

Oh man, this discussion is dwindling already?

Jenny ESP said...

Archer's distaste for Beaufort and all the other philanderers, was painfully hypocritical. I wish he had seen himself the way I did.

Landee said...

Well, there were 4 of us...I count as 1/2 anyway. And now one is gone. So yeah, I'd say it's dwindling fast.

Jenny ESP said...

Oh, the best was when Ellen told him that if they had an affair, he would be doing to May the same thing Count Olenski had done to her. Burn. And then he got out of the cab and cried.

Jenny ESP said...

If our leader is gone, who will lead us?

StandsMom said...

Have y'all seen the posters for Eclipse up at the theaters?

Jenny ESP said...

And am I talking to myself here?

Jenny ESP said...

Stands--Lollerz! Moving on to Twilight already?

StandsMom said...

Well, I saw the poster the other day - took a pic of it - squealed inside for a few seconds and I've been giggly about it ever since.

Jenny ESP said...

Can't believe how soon it's coming out. It's kind of indecent. They should space them a year apart so we can savor n stuff.

Landee said...

I'm nervous about Eclipse. I fear it'll be lamerz. Is that possible?

StandsMom said...

Yeah I agree. Like they rushed it or something? There's supposed to be a lot more sexual tension in this one.

Jenny ESP said...

Well...

Landee said...

I can't handle anymore sexual tension. I might implode.

Jenny ESP said...

I actually had much I wanted to discuss but I guess I'll just have to be satisfied with that. Like Newland Archer had to be satisfied when he couldn't have what he wanted.

StandsMom said...

Whatever Tiff. You're hubby divulged a few secrets on the way to the airport for SF. You're not tense at all. Heeheehee!!!

StandsMom said...

Like what Jenny? You just finished it today, didn't you?

Amanda said...

ok, guys, I'm back. sorry about that. darn husband, never around when you need him

Jenny ESP said...

I just meant nothing I had to say about it really inspired a response. I was hoping for a lil back and forth, ya know? But no prob. I'll just think about it my head. Sigh.

Jenny ESP said...

Yes, I just finished it, so that's why it's all so fresh and bothersome.

StandsMom said...

Yikes. It's already 11. I know some of you are later uppers, but this is pretty close to my limit. And, I'm a little excited about getting my boys off to school tomorrow. Tooodle-oo! I'm going to say as they walk out the door. Toooodle-oo.

Amanda said...

One thing I like about this book is even though it was written almost 100 years ago, a lot of stuff still applies. Like the high society stuff, the gender bias, the hypocrisy, the trends of liberal and conservatism, art and artists, the differences and similarities between New York and Europe, etc, etc.

I did, however, totally LOL when on page 53 Mr van der Luyden says they live in a constant rush.

Amanda said...

Jenny, do you want to keep discussing? I'm back. If you don't I'll understand. I'm part owl so I don't mind the lateness, but you might.

Jenny ESP said...

I LOLed on page one, when they said "erection".

StandsMom said...

No kidding! Can you imagine taking a carriage everywhere or riding a horse? I guess they had trains, but still - I'd go nuts!

Jenny ESP said...

Bye stands. I have one foot out the door too, and it's only 10 here.

Amanda said...

Hey, where'd everybody go?

Jenny ESP said...

Oh, what shall we discuss Amanda?

Amanda said...

I laughed when they said queer and gay a few times

Jenny ESP said...

I laughed when the characters blushed up and down about a 100 times in one day.

Jenny ESP said...

Srsly, I've never known a man to blush so much. Even up to his forehead.

Landee said...

I'll come back and read the rest of this discush after I've finished it. I've used all my 1st half bits.

Amanda said...

Did you feel sorry for Newland when his said he never had a choice? page 356

Jenny ESP said...

No, I did not, bc I disagreed. I hated that excuse.

Bye, L.

Amanda said...

I liked the son's comment about how "you never did ask each other anything, did you?" It was a great observation of their society.

Jenny ESP said...

I felt the most sorry for him, and most sympathetic for him, after reading the last line of the book.

Amanda said...

I didn't feel sorry for him either. Although I did feel bad that he perceived his life as inarticulate and regretful. Moron.

Jenny ESP said...

If he hadn't had walked away, I wouldn't have felt that level of sympathy for him, and would have probably hated his character. Do you think Wharton did that on purpose to leave us second guessing our dislike of him?

Amanda said...

So did I pick a loser of a book or was it just a hard month?

Jenny ESP said...

Yes, it was interesting how much society had changed in his lifetime. We don't always notice society changing around us.

Amanda said...

That's a great question. I don't know. I always thought it was because he just wanted to hold on to her as a fantasy.

Landee said...

::just checked Wikipedia:: Do any of you watch Gossip Girl? Apparently the series is based on the Age of Innocence. And Winona Ryder won a golden globe for her portrayal of May.

Jenny ESP said...

This was a bad month for sure, for that heavy of a read. I should have thought of that too. But I don't necessarily think the people who didn't read it, would have read it had it been another month.

Amanda said...

"That's it: they feel equal to things--they know their way about, " he mused, thinking of his son as the spokesperson of the new generation which had swept away all the old landmarks, and with them the signposts and the danger signals.
Yep, times were changing.

Jenny ESP said...

I think his walking away from Ellen definitely evoked a different feeling in us as readers tho. I would have felt differently if he had seen her. Maybe satisfied in some way, but I wouldn't have looked on his circumstances so sympathetically. I think she was trying to get us to understand that time. It's hard to understand hypocrisy.

Amanda said...

I've never heard of Gossip Girl. That's interesting.

And even though I'm no longer a Winona Ryder fan, sans shoplifting, I did love her performance in the movie. I also crushed on Daniel Day Lewis for a while.

Jenny ESP said...

Of course I watch Gossip Girl.

Jenny ESP said...

I wonder why I hated that movie so bad? I think I thought it was depressing.

Flem said...

Didn't Daniel Day Lewis play that guy in My Left Foot? It seems hard to crush on him after that.

Does that make me sound cruel?

Amanda said...

Very true. That ended invoked a sympathy that wouldn't have been there otherwise. Edith Wharton is smart. She writes everything with a purpose and to make a statement. So I'll check into that.....fascinating question you pose.

Flem said...

Also Edith Wharton is depressing in general. Did anyone read Ethan Frome?

Amanda said...

Never saw My Left Foot but loved him in Last of the Mohicans. Oh no, one of my kids just got up. Gotta go.

Jenny ESP said...

Wharton also gave us hints along the way that May was more world-savvy than Archer could admit. Which in turn, showed his ignorance. Every time he would see a glimpse of it, he would explain it away.

Jenny ESP said...

Like when May mentioned his mistress, and gave him a way out of their engagement. Very modern and knowing of her.

Jenny ESP said...

Never saw my left foot, never read ethen frome. Love him in Last of the Mohicans.

Flem said...

Jenny you are so literary! I am embarrassed I did not make the effort to read this book so we could have this discussion.

Sorry--I know people read Watership Down for me and I should have made this effort but I really was down in December and needed something light.

But looking at the picture of the model for Hush, Hush cover on your FB page did cure my winter-time blues for two minutes.

I hope he was over 18.

Flem said...

I wish Memzy were here because she would definitely say

"I will find you!"

You should text her that and see what she says.

Amanda said...

I read Ethan Frome. What a downer!

Amanda said...

My little boy threw up and now the baby is screaming. I hate that they share a room.

Jenny ESP said...

I will never read anything else from Wharton, unless assigned by a professor or something, but I am never in the mood for a downer. I also never read wuthering heights.

Jenny ESP said...

*will never read Wuthering Heights, I meant.

Sorry Amanda! Hate vomit.

Jenny ESP said...

Memzy is probably in bed. She's such a sleepy head! I love that line. You just made my heart pound, reading it.

Jenny ESP said...

PS. Thanks for picking this month's book, Amanda (hardest month of the year, for sure). Great pick, very thought-provoking, and worth the hard read. Wish more people had taken a stab at it. Next up, Shel. We should find out which book tomorrow...