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The House of Mirth | [Edith Wharton]

The House of Mirth

First published in 1905, the House of Mirth shocked many by its candour. Lily Bart moves in the shallow, new-moneyed class of New York society in which men make the money and women spend it. There amongst the glib diversions of the newly rich, she seeks a husband who can not only maintain her in this charmed existence, but can also provide unstinting admiration.
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Publisher's Summary

First published in 1905, the House of Mirth shocked many by its candour. Lily Bart moves in the shallow, new-moneyed class of New York society in which men make the money and women spend it.

There amongst the glib diversions of the newly rich, she seeks a husband who can not only maintain her in this charmed existence, but can also provide unstinting admiration.

Scandal, however, intervenes. Accused of being the mistress of a wealthy married man, Lily must withdraw from society. She becomes a milliner, but finds life outside the hothouse unendurable.

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4.3 (49 )
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4.2 (25 )
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  •  
    Valerie Harris Worcestershire 19/12/2008
    Valerie Harris Worcestershire 19/12/2008 Listener Since 2008

    V Harris

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton"

    A beautifully written novel, expertly read by Eleanor Bron. It tells the story of 29 year old Lily Bart, a dazzling socialite in 1890's New York. The big problem for Lily is money, the fact that she has none and the life style she desires needs plenty.The novel follows her fall into poverty and the response of her friends and acquaintances. A fascinating look at late 19 Century American society
    A delight to listen to.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Philip Tonbridge, United Kingdom 26/06/2013
    Philip Tonbridge, United Kingdom 26/06/2013 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    148
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    "Beautifully done."

    The worst of this was that the 'blurb' on Audible gives away the plot- I knew how Lily ended up before Eleanor Bron even opened her mouth.

    Apart from that it was absolutely superb- as one expects from this publisher.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Davies 15/06/2009 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Quite interesting"

    At times I found this "hard work". It is well written and had good characterisation and the story is interesting but it is quite "plodding." Glad I have finished it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N. Bowring Sussex 14/05/2009
    N. Bowring Sussex 14/05/2009 Member Since 2006

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Unforgettable"

    Beautifully and sympathetically read by Eleanor Bron, this book is an expert example of vanitas - the futility and emptiness of worldly wealth - and will linger long in my mind. Edith Wharton's intelligent portrayal of the loneliness and waste of a beautiful young woman's life, discarded by the society who had once feted her, is profound in the extreme.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mme longjumeau, France 07/04/2013
    mme longjumeau, France 07/04/2013
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    "Wonderful listening"

    Having read and listened to the book The House of Mirth, I can recommend this title for anyone who appreciates the beauty of Edith Wharton's prose. Nothing is lost and the characterisation and accent are totally in keeping with the time period of the story. This book is a classic example of Wharton's style, dramatic irony, telling the tale of Lily Bart, beautiful, witty and sophisticated, who dares to claim the privileges of marriage without assuming the responisbilities. This will lead to her downfall. The book is long but the words are carefully chosen and the change of settings and situations keep the listener totally absorbed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie Sydney, Australia 15/10/2010
    Julie Sydney, Australia 15/10/2010 Member Since 2008
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    "Wonderful Wharton, Beautifully Read"

    This is a favourite book of mine, a modern classic and Eleanor Bron reads it beautifully. Poor stunning Lily Bart. This is such a complex, moving portrait of a beauty, a fine spirit and the fashionable and established society she lives in, raising questions about integrity, worth, status etc in a complulsive story.

    If you enjoy it, do listen to The Age of Innocence too, it may be even better.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia 05/04/2015
    Cynthia 05/04/2015
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    "Absolute Perfection"

    Exceeded my expectations. Classic Wharton with perfect narration by Eleanor Bron. I was unable to stop listening, which for me is rare.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Oxfordshire 27/11/2014
    Karen Oxfordshire 27/11/2014 Member Since 2011
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    "Beautiful and sad"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The House of Mirth to be better than the print version?

    Yes. I read this book many years ago as I love the writing of Edith Wharton, an intelligent and perceptive author, but I particularly loved this book so was happy for Eleanor Bron to read it to me again and I picked up on things I feel I missed when I read it all that time ago.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The House of Mirth?

    When Lawrence Seldon offers Lily a different life than the one she is currently pursuing. I felt this was the turning point in the book.


    What about Eleanor Bron’s performance did you like?

    Her voice is beautifully modulated throughout with a soft American accent that felt right and never jarring.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Yes, it made me feel angry by the unkindness and jealousy of women towards other women and the hypocrisy of the wealthy society that existed at that time. However, how people are so ready to believe the worst of others without being in a position to judge still goes on today.


    Any additional comments?

    Because of the way Lily Bart was raised, she knew herself to be a beautiful woman and used that beauty to pursue marriage to a wealthy man, but riches were not enough to replace love. Pride can sometimes preclude us from taking the proper path.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane @The Owl Pen Warwickshire 23/05/2013
    Jane @The Owl Pen Warwickshire 23/05/2013
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    "Not a bundle of laughs"

    Although the title may be deceptive (the central character, Lily Bart, comes to a tragic end), this is a beautifully written book, superbly interpreted by the reader, Eleanor Bron. Edith Wharton is an easier to read version of Henry James, and depicts brilliantly the vanity and hypocrisy of American society at the beginning of the 20th century. Well worth listening to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia Kendal, United Kingdom 27/06/2012
    Patricia Kendal, United Kingdom 27/06/2012 Member Since 2007
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    "Highly Recommended"

    I came to this book late - following a quiz I thought I'd already read it but had confused it with a Henry James novel. Don't delay! Beautifully read, as well as written. And tragic - it's too easy today to dismiss the significance of moral standards of past ages. How lucky we are today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Emrys
    Alfred, NY, United States
    19/08/12
    Overall
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    "Like Henry James but more accessible"

    The novel portrays the New York upper middle class society in the late 19th century. Wharton writes elegantly, and is an acute psychologist and observer of manners. She's also very witty at times--with what you might call a stiletto wit. The reading is excellent, with subtle difference of voice and accent nicely calibrated to the character speaking.
    I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the book. But it made me wonder why writers like Wharton and Henry James devote themselves to writing about people who don't do anything--a class of idlers, in fact, who are terrified that they might have to work for a living. Perhaps they think that this idleness produces greater subjective sensitivity and depth. But I think their long descriptions and analyses of people's inner depths are rather more refined and sophisticated than is justified by reality. OccasionalIy found myself saying: Bring on a pirate! Let's have a murder! Or at least have someone kicked by a horse.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Catherine
    west orange, NJ, United States
    12/04/11
    Overall
    "Wonderful"

    I've listened to this book twice and will listen again after a while. I'd be happy to hear Eleanor Bron read the dictionary aloud: to hear her read Edith Wharton is pure bliss.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Thomas Lane
    Oak View, CA, United States
    04/03/13
    Overall
    Performance
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    "If you think you may be interested, get it!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely. This is one of the greatest novels by one of our greatest novelists. If you love beautiful writing and a great story, this is for you. Also: The narration by Eleonor Bron, the great, under-appreciated English actress who appeared in the film version of The House of Mirth (as well as the Beatles' movie Help!) is a work of art in itself.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The way social drama/comedy transforms into something much more profound.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Impossible to choose.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, too long. A book to savor.


    Any additional comments?

    I had not expected this to be as good as Wharton's The Age of Innocence. I was wrong.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • e
    Washington, DC, United States
    01/02/12
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    "Brilliant Writing"

    This book is amazingly well written. There were so many beautiful turns of phrase and amazing metaphors and insights (comparing the wrinkled finery left on the floor after undressing to the unappealing leftovers of a banquet, allusions to the manacle-like nature of women's jewelry, chaining them to a life they may not have chosen). Edith Wharton truly is one of the great writers of the 20th century. I was a Literature major in college and I'm sad I never had a chance to study her works there. The narration was very good, the speaker had a pleasant voice.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Fleming
    Naples, FL, United States
    12/09/11
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    "Vintage Wharton"

    The story and characters are vintage Wharton. Very entertaining and historically informative. Best to listen over extended time to keep up with story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • William M Storm
    MILWAUKEE, WI, United States
    07/10/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Decisions Have Consequences"

    Having now read Ethan Frome and Age of Innocence and listened to The House of Mirth, I can say that Edith Wharton is an unsympathetic author. She expects her characters and readers to look at the world through an objective lens. She places her characters into situations that have extreme consequences, and part of her program, so it seems, is to see how people will respond when tempted. What seems a small decision lingers throughout the narrative, especially for Lilly Bart, whose life descends into degradation as she is forced to compromise who she is for the sake of money. Simple decisions exact a terrible toll on her, and in the end, she succumbs to the hardships of her existence. If you enjoy happy endings or you feel too much for characters, then Edith Wharton might not be the author for your tastes. If you, on the other hand, expect a text to point to larger truths of how society functions--here late 19th/early 20th century--then her books are a fine source of how so much of life depends on the external forces of other people.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Pegeen
    United States
    10/07/15
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    "Lily in a Gilded Cage"

    Edith Wharton is a surgeon cutting apart and exposing the true insides of the best in society. Her exquisitely drawn descriptions of even minor characters are the reason to read the book -- you might know someone just like them even in today's "modern" times. That said a major draw back for me was the mean use of stereotypical Jew, which shines a light not so pleasant on Ms. Wharton herself.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Catherine Simpson
    Roswell, GA United States
    07/07/15
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    "Great narration, gripping story"

    Transcends the novel-of-manners about aristocrats genre....a study of human relationships and pride. Won't forget for a long time. Narrator does a great job differentiating among characters without falling into caricature.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Stephen
    Port Ludlow, WA, USA
    25/04/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Zola meets Hardy"

    A manipulative and melodramatic plot which successfully skewers New York society of 1905, but achieves little else. Great writing skills rather wasted

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Theresa Pittman
    04/04/15
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Very enjoyable listening!!"
    Where does The House of Mirth rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This was my first listen and I enjoyed it very much!


    What did you like best about this story?

    The voice of the narrator and how she changed her voice from character to character.


    Which character – as performed by Eleanor Bron – was your favorite?

    Mr. Rosdale


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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