Spoiler Warning

Book reviews and discussions may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

In the mood for some heavy reading?

The Age of Innocence review by JennyEspy

This is no innocent summer beach read. And I also wouldn’t recommend trying to conquer this book during the busiest month of the year (when you may only have time to pick it up here and there) as it requires the reader to retain thick masses of information. January might the best month to read it. Or maybe February. The thick paragraphs aren’t easy to read in bits and pieces. But, beneath the muck of social commentary and the seemingly endless parade of characters—some who impact the plot, and some whose purpose might only be to illustrate late 1800s New York society—there is an enthralling and tragic story. It kind of creeps up on you, and you don’t even realize how enthralling it is until you read the last sentence.

Newland Archer—I disliked him right off the bat. I found his awareness of his own social hypocrisy, hypocritical. I grew to despise him even more as the book went on. I hated every decision he made, especially since he believed his choices to be self-sacrificing, which they weren’t. I eventually began to tolerate him, pity him, and then hope he would at last find some happiness in his life. When he longed for the day May would die and set him free, I hated him again. However, the last two chapters were painful from his perspective. I felt so sad for him, despite it all being his fault.

I have more to say, but as always, I waited until to last minute to write this up and have no time left, so I’ll say it in the discussion.

FYI:

I put the first chapter of AoI in the Flesch-Kincaid reading grade level calculator, and it’s at a grade 16 (which is a senior in college). It’s readability, on a scale of 0-to-120 (the lower the number, the harder to understand), the readability is 35. To put that into perspective:

Reader’s Digest: 65

Time Magazine: 52

Harvard Law Review: low 30s.

Quite laborious reading. Be proud if you finished it.

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