Friday, 4 February 2011

Custom of the country (Wharton)

I've done two Edith Whartons so far on this blog, and really they did not excite me very much. A colleague who reads this blog lent me her copy of Custom of the country quite a while ago; I can't remember what she said about it but it was along the lines of "this one will make you like Edith Wharton". I'm afraid it took me a while to get to, and it was only Virago Reading Week and the mention of this title by Laura, and a link to her review, that made me finally take it home from my desk and start reading it. I'm sorry Ali, but although I enjoyed it slightly more than the last ones it just didn't really do it for me. I think the issue is that I don't particularly enjoy the setting very much, but I guess I'm going to have to learn to enjoy books about New York "society" and social climbing as there are 16 Edith Whartons in total on the VMC list.

As Laura has written such an elegant review, I think I'll direct you over there, rather than struggle to write a post about a book which I didn't enjoy very much. Wharton along with Keane is an author that I wish Virago hadn't published so much of.

My borrowed copy was a Bantam Classic edition; it looks like it has only been published once in a green italicized edition.


  1. Aaaw, sad you didn't enjoy it. The thing I love most is that Undine is so *awful*.

  2. Aaaw, I'm sad, too, Verity. Like Ali, it's her "awfulness" I adored. Which is weird because I usually don't like despicable characters!

    So you didn't like it, but that's OK. Wharton is one of my favorite authors so I can't help but foist her on others. Ah well, I respect your opinion and sometimes you just *know* when an author isn't your cup of tea.

    It's very sweet of you to give a "shout out" for my review. And to call it "elegant" ... well, that's more than it deserves. But I've had a rough week so I'll gladly accept the compliment!

    I hope you enjoy your next VMC more.

  3. At least you tried, Verity. And I know what you mean about Keane, I just can't seem to bring myself to read anything by her...yet.

  4. Sorry this didn't appeal to you, Verity. The Custom of the Country is my favorite Wharton novel (must read The Age of Innocence soon though) and Undine is one of the most memorable characters ever - she is just SO awful! Not being able to enjoy a particular setting seems like it would be a hard thing to overcome :-(

  5. That's a pity, when reading these sort of novels if I'm not enjoying them I just try and imagine how Hollywood would make the movie. Sounds weird but picturing the costumes and settings that would be done with big budget somehow makes me enjoy it more.

  6. Ali - I will be quite happy to return it to you this week!

    Darlene - thank goodness for someone else who avoids Keane. Except that I can't if I want to complete this challenge.

    Laura - thanks for your kind comments. I found Undine nasty, but I just couldn't get into the plot in the way that I could with another nasty VMC character, Angel by Elizabeth Taylor.

    LE - I quite like that tip, but not sure if it will help me get through more of Wharton.

    JoAnn - I'm sorry, I know you are a Wharton-phile.

  7. This was good, but not my favorite Wharton -- looking at your other reviews you haven't read either of my favorites -- The House of Mirth and Ethan Frome. Her short stories are really good too. I had a harder time getting into this one but it paid off.

    I noticed in your previous review that you really wanted to read Summer, especially because one of the characters is a librarian. I don't want to spoil anything for you but she's not exactly a librarian and that's hardly in the book at all, sadly. It's good but also not my favorite. Read Ethan Frome!! (Especially in the winter, if you have lots of snow, it's the perfect setting). Read House of Mirth. I loved it, couldn't stop reading it.