This novel ever so politely points out that you might think you like your life, and you might think you’re oh-so-clever, but there’s a chance your life is awful, and an even greater chance that you’re a moron. When someone with a kickass name like Countess Ellen Olenska waltzes across your path, be sure to fall in love with her so you can start resenting everyone else, especially your fiancée, because she is completely devoid of personality. Then proceed to struggle with your feelings for said countess for approximately 25 years. It will make for a beautiful love story, kind of.
I am a huge fan of this book, and Edith Wharton, and her dogs—even if I suspect that her characters serve as voodoo dolls. And the readers, too, a little bit.
Is It One of the Greatest Books of All Time?
Yes, but you better deep fry some pork in preparation for the sweet and sour ending.
SO MANY Favorite Quotes:
Once more it was borne in on him that marriage was not the safe anchorage he had been taught to think, but an uncharted voyage on the seas.
“Do you think, then, there is a limit?”
“To being in love? If there is, I haven’t found it!”
It’s you who are telling me; opening my eyes to things I’d looked at so long that I’d ceased to see them.
“And all the while, I suppose,” he thought, “real people were living somewhere, and real things happening to them…”
“Do you know—I hardly remembered you?”
“Hardly remembered me?”
“I mean: how shall I explain? I—it’s always so. Each time you happen to me all over again.”
I couldn’t have spoken like this yesterday, because when we’ve been apart, and I’m looking forward to seeing you, every thought is burnt up in a great flame. But then you come, and you’re so much more than I remembered, and what I want of you is so much more than an hour or two every now and then…
It was when she sent for me alone—you remember? She said she knew we were safe with you, and always would be, because once, when she asked you to, you’d given up the thing you most wanted.