Edith Wharton on Audio, Vol. 1 contains a few of the many short stories she composed during her stay at The Mount from 1902 to 1911. The stories delve deeply into the issues she was most concerned with at the time – namely the paradox of balancing a life of integrity with the required compromises of conforming to a newly formed society. The Gilded Age brought with it new rules and regulations and the values therein often clashed with the ones of the more noble European aristocracy of Edith’s background.
In "The Last Asset", Wharton is at her best, depicting a social climbing mother who commissions a young journalist to retrieve her estranged husband from obscurity in order to present a facade of respectability for her daughter's immanent marriage.
"Autre Temps" follows the travails of a divorced mother re-entering society after being cut from various New England social circles for the purpose of supporting her daughter's marriage. Her underestimating of the mechanistic conformity of society leads her to an ironic fate.
In "Expiation", one of Wharton's funniest satires, "a bishop and his niece conspire to earn each other's fortunes, she by writing a mildly scandalous book, he by denouncing it from the pulpit; the book's title is that of Edith's adolescent melodrama, Fast and Loose." (from Edith Wharton: A Biography, by R.W.B. Lewis)
Don't when I've enjoyed an audiobook more. I thought I had read all there was in Wharton's oeuvre and am delighted to have discovered these three gems.The fine cast of readers handle Ms Wharton's sophisticated prose with impressive skill and to the listener's benefit. I look forward to more from this label.
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