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The Valley Of Decision
by Edith Wharton
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Wharton's first full-length novel, The Valley of Decision, is set in eighteenth-century Italy. Here Wharton pits folks inspired by the antireligious thoughts of Rousseau and Voltaire against the orthodox leaders of the day. Soon enough Wharton's night-constant theme comes through: this, like most other violations of personal convention, will come at a terrible cost.
At length the moon rose, and toward midnight Odo, spurring out of a dark glen, found himself at the opening of the valley of Donnaz. A cold radiance bathed the familiar pastures, the houses of the village along the stream, and the turrets and crenellations of the castle at the head of the gorge. The air was bitter, and the horses' hoofs struck sharply on the road as they trotted past the slumbering houses and halted at the gateway through which Odo had first been carried as a sleepy child.
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