2011: 65. The House of Mirth

“Selden paused in surprise. In the afternoon rush of Grand Central Station, his eyes had been refreshed by the sight of Miss Lily Bart.”

Amazon List

The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth

Penguin 20th century

House of Mirth, Edith Wharton






Jesus, forget Ford Madox For, this is the saddest story I have ever heard.  Poor tragic dumb Lily Bart, who can’t live without society and it’s trappings, but can’t quite bring herself play the game the way she needs too.  Ugh.  I could barely re-read this, knowing where it ends.  I love The Age of Innocence, and of course, that one doesn’t end well for the lovers, but Mirth, Christ, I can barely think about it.  It’s like a horror movie - you keep wanting to yell at Lily to make one good choice - or one “good choice” - anything but stumbling along as she does.  


And, of course, it’s fabulously well written.  Edith Wharton was the real deal, and this story is as good as anything she’s done - I think you can safely say its her masterpiece.  But it’s only for the strong of stomach - you need to be able to read about a young lady ruining her own life - and I for one, think twice is enough for Mirth. I’ll stick with Newland Archer and Countess Oleska.


Categories:  Fiction, Modern Library Top 100, Re-Read


© Carrie Dunsmore 2017