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Summary

In 1905 New York City, Lily Bart is a young, witty and beautiful socialite. Through a series of unfortunate events, she learns of the bitter consequences for a single woman without wealth, living in an uncaring society.

Public Domain (P)2013 Trout Lake Media

What listeners say about The House of Mirth

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Ahead of its Time

This novel of social commentary, highlights the unjust treatment of single women in New York high Society at the end of the nineteenth century. I imagine it was controversial when published but time has tamed its criticism.

Beautiful Lily Bart has many family connections and an aristocratic upbringing but is forced to depend on the small allowance of an elderly aunt. Lily's extravagant friends and life style mean she soon finds herself unable to keep up financially and so she must consider marrying for money to maintain the lifestyle she is accustom to. However, she faces the all too familiar issue of marrying for love over money. Could she be happy in poverty with the man she loves? This novel explores the options facing many young women from this period.

I found the narrator of this book quite annoying. Very breathy at times and putting on many hammed up voices. I would rather have read it myself and I think I would have connected with the characters more had they not been so frustratingly portrayed.

3 people found this helpful

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Not my style

It's a well written book, well presented, but not my style. Despite the fact it kept making me think of the vapidity of Paris Hilton and countless Kardashians, I still made it half way through. That is quite some endorsement.

2 people found this helpful

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Brilliant but flawed

This a a story of unutterable tragedy, the adamantine chains of a deeply conservative Society and the waste of a young woman’s life. Brought up to believe luxury and wealth were the only desirable goals in life - mirrored so accurately in the modern world of reality TV stars like The Kardashians - Lily Bart has unfortunately for her peace of mind also got a conscience - and honour. Torn between these warring imperatives and let down by the cowardly men in her life Lily drifts inexorably towards the terrible climax of her rootless existence.

Wharton writes extensively and brilliantly about a narrow band of Old New York Society and in doing so shows the cruelty of bringing up girls to be ignorant, sheltered and purely decorative objects to be bought and sold by the men who run that Society. Her writing is superb, especially here.

The narrator is both good and bad. The voice of the narrator and characterisations are perfectly suited to the subject - her portrayal of Lily is excellent - but she reads at breakneck speed and the editing of the narration is very poor. This is a great shame because it spoils what could have been a truly excellent presentation.

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Exquisite prose!

I fell in love with Edith Wharton’s writing because of its fluidity, intellectual prowess and originality.
Her use of the English language of the 19th Century is not an obstacle to the modern interlocutor. Ms Wharton elevates her exquisite prose to its highest zenith. She is the epitome of delicate irony, light sarcasm and playful banter but brings the reader to dark corners of the character’s mind from wherein wild intentions or ideas spring.

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Emotional and thought provoking

The performance is adequately pleasant for listening and the story is one which infuses romance and social commentary in a fabulous way.

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frustrating read/listening.

struggled as main character didn't seem to think like a person just like a scripted character

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Worth a read

If you could sum up The House of Mirth in three words, what would they be?

Frustrating female character

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

It annoyed me because the main character was just so principled to her own detriment. I didn't have much sympathy for her in the end but that doesn't take away from the quality of the writing, it only shows how good it was to elicit such strong feelings from me!

Any additional comments?

Would like to watch the TV adaption

1 person found this helpful

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  • VK
  • 19-01-15

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

I thought this book was okay, well worth the 95 cents that I paid. I am not sure why so many other reviewers disliked the narrator. This is the second book that I've listened to which she has narrated and I found her perfectly adequate.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Sarah H
  • 11-09-18

Classic to a T

Edith Wharton is definitely a great American writer and this is one of her best pieces. It highlights the issues women faced in their time. I felt for the protagonist and her plight. It must have been soul destroying to have to have a male protector rather than being able to stand on your own. It is sad and were times I would like to climb into the narrative and slap a few people due to their bigotry and sexist attitudes but I had to remind myself that it was normal. Overall the reading was excellent. Emma Messenger had just the right tone and inflection to carry you back to New York and place you in time and place beautifully. I will definitely read/listen to her again. This is definitely worth the time.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Robert Bonney
  • 08-09-17

amazing storytelling and narration

Wharton is a wonderful storyteller. House of Mirth is full of beautifully written characters and a great understanding of human nature and social dynamics. Narrator Emma Messenger is one of the best I've heard.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Arnfinn Rong
  • 16-03-17

Wonderfull reading of a wonderful but tragic story

Where does The House of Mirth rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Emma Messenger reads very true to the book, in a delightful voice that does not add to characters what isn't already there on the page

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

The story is very heart-gripping, one of those where you loathe as well as love the main person, Lily Barth, a beautiful but too-proud lady in pre-WW1 New York society era.

Have you listened to any of Emma Messenger’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

House Of Mirth is so much a better book than Age Of Innocence. It's a mysteriously beautiful story while tragic!

Any additional comments?

Emma Messenger should read more Edith Wharton books.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Deal Monger
  • 26-08-16

Brilliant tragic love story

Superb narration of a beautifully written novel. By today's standards the heroine's indecision can sometimes be exasperating, but that's more a reflection on the elite society of early 20e America than on her. Many parallels to Anna Karenina.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 09-08-15

Excellent, but Quite Dated

This is an excellently written novel about a young woman falling from the height of 1900’s New York society. It is a well delivered story but it is difficult now days to feel too sorry for the character actually having to learn a skill and get a job (due to her own silliness) instead of living off of inherited wealth or marriage into such wealth. This is an unflattering expose of 1900 New York, which was likely controversial at the time, but now just seems quaint.

This, like An American Tragedy, is well written in a naturalistic style with a likable yet tragically flawed protagonist, but I much preferred An American Tragedy as it was less a story about manners and more about motivations.

The narration was excellent and added much to my enjoyment of this novel.

Although the writing was excellent and the story well written, I can’t think of anyone I would highly recommend this book to.

12 people found this helpful

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  • mike s.
  • 19-02-20

Fantastic book enlivened by talented voice actor

Love this book. The voice artist is exceptional. Read until the end. You will not see that coming.

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  • bebe
  • 18-08-19

Very well written

Fascinating portrait of a privileged woman and the consequences of her actions. I don't know whether or not I like Lilly Bart, the protagonist, but I think the answer is that i did not like her. It was interesting and extremely well written, but it was also rather sad and depressing. I believe Edith Wharton must have known first hand the feelings of depression.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-03-19

annoyingly over acted performance but still worth

this production is a case study in extremes. The reading was extremely aggravating, but Edith Wharton's novel is mesmerizing. You easily forget that this story takes place over 100 years ago. Lily Bart could easily be any girl today struggling with crushing depression and manic anxiety. I just wish it was read better, however this version was a great price so I guess it's true what they say - you get what you pay for.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Erika
  • 24-10-18

wonderfully tragic....

A bit wordy, but a good story and wonderfully narrated. Lily Bart and Lawrence Seldon were not meant to be together in this world, perhaps in another.