The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton
The upper echelons of society in New York before the First World War: wealth, strict social conventions, a degree of hypocrisy - not unlike similar societies elsewhere, in London or in Paris. Three main characters: Newland Archer, engaged and then married to May Welland, and May's cousin, Ellen Olenska, unhappily married to a Polish count. Newland falls in love with Ellen, and the book is about the psychological discoveries and struggles of these three characters. A book about individual emotions and principles, about the weight of social conventions, about choices - abut, in a way, the road not taken; what if.......? The title is intriguing: New York society was not innocent, but perhaps it was compared to what followed; as a critic has said, not quite earnest, not quite ironic. As a great writer, Edith Wharton provides more questions than answers.
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