The Age of Innocence (Collins Classics)

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9780007368648: The Age of Innocence (Collins Classics)

HarperCollins is proud to present its new range of best-loved, essential classics.

'I want – I want somehow to get away with you into a world where words like that – categories like that – won't exist. Where we shall be simply two human beings who love each other, who are the whole of life to each other; and nothing else on earth will matter.’

Newland Archer, a successful and charming young lawyer conducts himself by the rules and standards of the polite, upper class New York society that he resides in. Happily engaged to the pretty and conventional May Welland, his attachment guarantees his place in this rigid world of the elite.

However, the arrival of May’s cousin, the exotic and beautiful European Countess Olenska throws Newland’s life upside down. A divorcee, Olenska is ostracised by those around her, yet Newland is fiercely drawn to her wit, determination and willingness to flout convention. With the Countess, Newland is freed from the limitations that surround him and truly begins to ‘feel’ for the first time.

Wharton’s subtle exposé of the manners and etiquette of 1870s New York society is both comedic, subtle, satirical and cynical in style and paints an evocative picture of a man torn between his passion and his obligation.

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Review:

Somewhere in this book, Wharton observes that clever liars always come up with good stories to back up their fabrications, but that really clever liars don't bother to explain anything at all. This is the kind of insight that makes The Age of Innocence so indispensable. Wharton's story of the upper classes of Old New York, and Newland Archer's impossible love for the disgraced Countess Olenska, is a perfectly wrought book about an era when upper-class culture in this country was still a mixture of American and European extracts, and when "society" had rules as rigid as any in history.

Book Description:

Cambridge Literature is a series of literary texts edited for study by students aged 14-18 in English-speaking classrooms. It will include novels, poetry, short stories, essays, travel-writing and other non-fiction. The series will be extensive and open-ended and will provide school students with a range of edited texts taken from a wide geographical spread.

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