Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence is the story of an idealistic young man who finds that he is trapped by society’s conventions (1870’s N.Y upper crust). He marries not for love but because of convention. It reminded me of Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abby except for the fast European lifestyle. I suppose the British were not included in the fast living lot. At least, I never got that from watching Upstairs or Downton.
Although the beginning of the second book seemed to drag, it was still Wharton at her best. The last chapter, the wrap-up, was particularly good and did not seem like an accidental appendage like so many final chapters do. My only gripe was that the sudden change in Madame Olenska’s mind when she decides to leave New York to return to Europe. How her great aunt’s mind was changed to somewhat accepting this or at least not making a row over it, was not done well. And to readers who do not like a lot of description, beware.
Wealth, Wharton shows that wealth has its own baggage particularly for the women. An empty-headed wife, I could not be.