Tag: Author: Edith Wharton

Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 25 November, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Here we go, another set of mini-reviews that couldn’t possibly fit in review posts of their own xD Once again this batch of mini-reviews features mainly classics (especially from the Little Black Classics series–after oggling over them for a good chunk of the year, I finally got my hands on some of them! 🙂 ). Included in this batch of reviews are:

So without further ado…

How We Weep and Laught at the Same Thing
By: Michel de Montaigne
Format/Source: Paperback; my copy

‘No one characteristic clasps us purely and universally in its embrace.’

A selection of charming essays from a master of the genre exploring the contradictions inherent to human thought, words and actions.

I first encountered Michel de Montaigne in my first year of undergrad. We had to read a selection of essays for World Literature class and absolutely fell in love with his stuff; he wrote about things that I often thought about, and I could totally emphasise where he was coming from with certain topics. I wish I had picked up his complete works when I was in undergrad instead of the required selected text, but whatever, every now and then I’d pick up a slim volume from Penguin Classics featuring a few of his essays. This is one of them, in which he contemplates on the nature of human thought, how we define ourselves, life, death, etc. I don’t know what else I could really say about it except that it’s worth checking out; a lot of his observations are still applicable today and to the human condition.

Rating: ★★★★★

Read More

So You Want to Read… (Edith Wharton)

Posted 7 October, 2015 by Lianne in Lists / 6 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a new monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂

For this month’s So You Want to Read… I decided to go with Edith Wharton. I got around to reading her books a few years ago after hearing so much about her works. Since then she’s quickly become one of my favourite classic authors and while I recently came across a few titles of hers that I didn’t love as much as others, I still find her to be a stellar writer with such a wonderful grasp of language and understanding of human motivation and feeling. I understand that people can be a little ambivalent towards her as many had to study her novel Ethan Frome in high school; I read it earlier this year and I can see why people might be apprehensive to try her other works as omg that book was especially depressing.

So without further ado, here are some of her books that I’d recommend if you’re planning on checking out her books for the first time:

  • The Age of Innocence (review) — This and The House of Mirth tackle some rather hefty issues and the relationships overlap and connect in complex ways, but I still find this novel to be of lighter fare compared to the latter. There’s also the love story, but I thought the social commentary and the representation and status of women were the far more interesting elements.
  • The House of Mirth (review) — This is my favourite novel by Edith Wharton and normally I recommend it first, but you honestly have to be in a particular mood to read it as it can be depressing. You can’t help but feel for Lily as things go from bad to worse, and it’s just heartbreaking, but Wharton’s prose is magnificent and her observation so astute, I found myself identifying with some of the deeper themes that the novel presents.
  • The Bunner Sisters (review) — It’s shorter and thus it’s not as fleshed out as the first two titles but it’s still much more accessible than some of her other stories. Plus, the premise was interesting in that the two main characters featured are sisters; one sister more than the other, but it still has different features compared to some of her shorter works. It also has some similar running themes you’d find in her other novels, but if you’re looking for one of her shorter works to check out first, then either this or the following will work.
  • Summer (review) — Rumour has it they’re planning on adapting this novella into a movie? Anyway, I can sort of see it happening as compared to The Bunner Sisters the characters and motivations are much more fleshed out. It can still be a dark novel as it deals with the subject of a fallen woman, as well as borderline taboo issues, but again Wharton writes with such clarity as readers gain a glimpse into what the main character Charity is going through.

I hope this list helps if you’re interested in reading Edith Wharton’s books! What’s your favourite novel by Edith Wharton? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to check out?

Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 14 September, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Here we go, another set of mini-reviews that couldn’t possibly fit in review posts of their own xD A bit of a theme, this edition of my mini-reviews, as the books I review are mainly classics that I read in the last few months, and short ones at that 😉 Included in this batch of reviews are:

Without further ado…

The Duel
By: Heinrich von Kleist
Format/Source: Paperback; my copy

One of the few novellas written by the master German playwright, The Duel was considered by Thomas Mann and others to be one of the great works of German literature. The story of a virtuous woman slandered by a nobleman, it is a precise study of a subject that fascinated von Kleist: That people are sometimes seemingly punished for their very innocence.

I had been meaning to read more classic German literature so I was delighted to see this listed with Melville House’s The Art of the Novella series. The Duel was an interesting read, very accessible and easy to just slip into the story and the lives of these characters. It’s a fascinating look at honour, chivalry, and women’s role during the medieval period, as well as the role of the duel and the deadly consequences that result from it, both from the act itself and the implications afterwards. It’s also a fascinating study of one’s word, innocence and truthfulness and how these things were weighed during such a period. The writing was quite lovely as well, I highly recommend this title from The Art of the Novella series 🙂

Rating: ★★★★☆

Read More

Review: The Custom of the Country

Posted 22 August, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Custom of the Country
By: Edith Wharton
Format/Source: eBook; my copy

Highly acclaimed at its publication in 1913, The Custom of the Country is a cutting commentary on America’s nouveaux riches, their upward-yearning aspirations and their eventual downfalls. Through her heroine, the beautiful and ruthless Undine Spragg, a spoiled heiress who looks to her next materialistic triumph as her latest conquest throws himself at her feet, Edith Wharton presents a startling, satiric vision of social behavior in all its greedy glory. As Undine moves from America’s heartland to Manhattan, and then to Paris, Wharton’s critical eye leaves no social class unscathed.

This book has been on my TBR queue for many years, and it’s the last of Edith Wharton’s New York novels I have yet to read. I’ve been reading her works over the years and have come to love her works, however depressing they can be, because of the characters she draws up and the awesomeness that is her writing. So yeah, after years of sitting on my queue, I pushed to make it a point to read this book this summer, even though I’ve been busy studying for exams (because, you know, I need a break every now and then, right? 😉 )

Read More

Review: Summer

Posted 29 June, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

By: Edith Wharton
Format/Source: eBook; my copy

Charity Royall lives unhappily with her hard-drinking adoptive father in an isolated village, until a visiting architect awakens her sexual passion and the hope for escape. Exploring Charity’s relation to her father and her lover, Wharton delves into dark cultural territory: repressed sexuality, small-town prejudice, and, in subtle hints, incest.

Continuing along with getting around to all of Edith Wharton’s books (having already read The Age of Innocence (review), The House of Mirth (review) and Bunner Sisters (review)) is her short novel Summer. It seemed fitting to read it since summer officially started a week ago and I needed a break from Balzac’s Cousin Bette (a bit of a slow read, that one). And fancy that, this novel was pretty short too. Contains some spoilers ahead!

Read More