‘Do you remember what you said to me once? That you could help me only by loving me? Well-you did love me for a moment; and it helped me. It has always helped me.’
Lily Bart, an attractive young woman living in New York City, relies on beauty and charm to ensure economic survival. Determined to marry into wealth to support her expensive lifestyle, Lily denies her feelings for Lawrence Stern due to his modest income. She turns instead towards young millionaire, Percy Grace. During her pursuit of money and status, Lily becomes the agent of her own undoing. Events take a tragic turn and her reputation is ruined by scandal. She is unwilling to adhere to the standards of New York’s social elitism, which leads to devastating consequences.
Wharton’s stunning and disturbing commentary on the role of women in this irresponsible, hedonistic society will delight those enchanted by her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel ‘The Age of Innocence’.
A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick
The beloved American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century.
From the moment she entered the world, Francie needed to be made of stern stuff, for the often harsh life of Williamsburg demanded fortitude, precocity, and strength of spirit. Often scorned by neighbors for her family’s erratic and eccentric behavior—such as her father Johnny’s taste for alcohol and Aunt Sissy’s habit of marrying serially without the formality of divorce—no one, least of all Francie, could say that the Nolans’ life lacked drama. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the Nolans’ daily experiences are tenderly threaded with family connectedness and raw with honesty. Betty Smith has, in the pages of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, captured the joys of humble Williamsburg life-from “junk day” on Saturdays, when the children of Francie’s neighborhood traded their weekly take for pennies, to the special excitement of holidays, bringing cause for celebration and revelry. Betty Smith has artfully caught this sense of exciting life in a novel of childhood, replete with incredibly rich moments of universal experiences—a truly remarkable achievement for any writer.
The beautiful, much-desired Lily Bart has been raised to be one of the perfect wives of the wealthy upper class, but her spark of character and independent drive prevents her from becoming one of the many women who will succeed in those circles. Though her desire for a comfortable life means that she cannot marry for love without money, her resistance to the rules of the social elite endangers her many marriage proposals. As Lily spirals down into debt and dishonor, her story takes on the resonance of classic tragedy. One of Wharton's most bracing and nuanced portraits of the life of women in a hostile, highly ordered world, The House of Mirth exposes the truths about American high society that its denizens most wished to deny. With an introduction by Pamela Knights.
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)