Saturday, 14 January 2012

The glimpses of the moon (Wharton)

My colleague handed me The glimpses of the moon by Edith Wharton after the Christmas break. She, like regular readers, knows that I have struggled with Wharton books on this challenge finding them difficult to relate to, so she didn't mind too much when I wasn't terribly effusive. Let me be clear however, I was still grateful to have a VMC that I had not yet read put into my hands, and actually, I have to admit to getting more out of it than I was expecting.

Although, like the other Wharton books I have read, this focuses on "society", it had a strong plot line from the start which interested me enough to want to keep reading. Penniless Nick and Susy have just got married and are on honeymoon; we discover that it has been a pragmatic marriage where they think that marriage will benefit them financially and within society. They intend to live off their wedding present cheques and the hospitality of their friends and acquaintances and believe that these will last for about a year before running out. They make an agreement that should one of them have the opportunity to marry someone wealthy, they will break the marriage. However, when a misunderstanding results in them going off with other people, it seems that the time spent together has not just had a pragmatic effect, they have actually fallen in love.

I realised whilst I was reading the book that the reason I think I struggle with Wharton's books is because the emphasis on society life seems to make the characters predominantly interested in superficial things such as money and social hierarchies. Although this was certainly a strong theme in this book, I sensed from early on that perhaps this wasn't the most important thing.

Maybe I should try The house of mirth next which has been waiting for me for quite a while...

This has just been published once by Virago with an italicised green cover. Thanks again to Alison for passing it to me. Bizarrely it has the same number as No place on earth by Christa Wolf.


  1. From what I recall The House of Mirth is very traditional Wharton but I enjoyed it. Haven't read The Glimpses of the Moon yet (or, for that matter, heard of it!) but I'll give it a go someday.

  2. Yes, read The House of Mirth! It is Wharton's finest novel in my opinion. Lily Bart is a tragic heroine with just as much depth as Flaubert's Emma and Tolstoy's Anna.