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The Custom of the Country
by Edith Wharton
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Edith Wharton's novels of manners seem to grow in stature as time passes. Here she draws a beautiful social climber, Undine Sprague, who is a monster of selfishness and honestly doesn't know it. Although the worlds she wants to conquer have vanished, Undine herself is amazingly recognizable. She marries well above herself twice and both times fails to recognize her husbands' strengths of character or the weakness of her own, and it is they, not she, who pay the price. Barbara Caruso can't make Undine sympathetic; no one could. But she makes her believable, quite miracle enough, and renders Undine's slash-and-burn progress toward what she thinks will make her happy utterly absorbing. B.G. © AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
Jack Goodstein, Allreaders.com
Wharton creates a story of a beautiful young woman
"Edith Wharton's finest achievement."
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Whartons glittering satire of the newly affluent in Old New York
Considered by many to be her masterpiece, Edith Whartons second full-length work is a scathing yet personal examination of the exploits and follies of the modern upper class. As she unfolds the story of Undine Spragg, from New York to Europe, Wharton affords us a detailed glimpse of what might be called the interior décor of this America and its nouveau riche fringes. Through a heroine who is as vain, spoiled, and selfish as she is irresistibly fascinating, and through a most intricate and satisfying plot that follows Undines marriages and affairs, she conveys a vision of social behavior that is both supremely informed and supremely disenchanted. BACKCOVER: As long as men and women seek to use each otherand to use each other badlyEdith Wharton can be counted upon to provide the ideal commentary.
In this book, Edith Wharton creates the character Undine Spragg, who puts aside everything for her climb up the social and financial ladder. She is an unlikable character that is simply a spoiled brat. Her desire for money and rank in high society has made her a woman that is totally selfish and doesn't care who she has to hurt to get where she wants. This book gives a sight into the high society circles in New York before the Great War. Please Note: This book is easy to read in true text, not scanned images that can sometimes be difficult to decipher. The Microsoft eBook has a contents page linked to the chapter headings for easy navigation. The Adobe eBook has bookmarks at chapter headings and is printable up to two full copies per year. Both versions are text searchable.
The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
A novel of manners by Edith Wharton, published in 1913. The Custom of the Country is the story of Undine Spragg, a young woman with social aspirations who convinces her nouveau riche parents to leave the Midwest and settle in New York. There she captures and marries a young man from New York's high society. This and each subsequent relationship she engineers prove unsatisfactory, chiefly because of her greed and great ambition.
From the Publisher
First published in 1913, Edith Wharton's The Custom Of The Country is scathing novel of ambition featuring one of the most ruthless heroines in literature. Undine Spragg is as unscrupulous as she is magnetically beautiful. Her rise to the top of New York's high society from the nouveau riche provides a provocative commentary on the upwardly mobile and the aspirations that eventually cause their ruin. One of Wharton's most acclaimed works, The Custom Of The Country is a stunning indictment of materialism and misplaced values that is as powerful today for its astute observations about greed and power as when it was written nearly a century ago.
From the Inside Flap
Highly acclaimed at its publication in 1913, The Custom of the Country is a cutting commentary on America's nouveaux riches, their upward-yearning aspirations and their eventual downfalls. Through her heroine, the beautiful and ruthless Undine Spragg, a spoiled heiress who looks to her next materialistic triumph as her latest conquest throws himself at her feet, Edith Wharton presents a startling, satiric vision of social behavior in all its greedy glory. As Undine moves from America's heartland to Manhattan, and then to Paris, Wharton's critical eye leaves no social class unscathed.
From the Back Cover
"As long as men and women seek to use each otherand to use each other badlyEdith Wharton can be counted upon to provide the ideal commentary."
About the Author
Edith Wharton (18621937) published poetry and short stories in magazines and in volume form before her novel The House of Mirth became a bestseller and established her as a writer of both distinction and popular appeal. Her other novels include Ethan Frome and The Age of Innocence, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
Linda Wagner-Martin is Frank Borden Hanes Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the editor of The Portable Edith Wharton.
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