One of the first novels of manners to emerge in American literature, and also one of Wharton's best-known works, The House of Mirth centers on Lily Bart, a New York socialite attempting to secure a husband and a place in affluent society.
I should fancy so--except to the historian. But your real collector values a thing for its rarity. I don't suppose the buyers of Americana sit up reading them all night--old Jefferson Gryce certainly didn't."
She was listening with keen attention. "And yet they fetch fabulous prices, don't they? It seems so odd to want to pay a lot for an ugly badly-printed book that one is never going to read! And I suppose most of the owners of Americana are not historians either?"
"No; very few of the historians can afford to buy them. They have to use those in the public libraries or in private collections. It seems to be the mere rarity that attracts the average collector."
He had seated himself on an arm of the chair near which she was standing, and she continued to question him, asking which were the rarest volumes, whether the Jefferson Gryce collection was really considered the finest in the world, and what was the largest price ever fetched by a single volume.
It was so pleasant to sit th
After reading the book I felt that Lily Bart's life was quite tragical. The story begins so promisingly for her and with her beauty and charm, there is nothing to indicate to the reader the turn that her story will take. Edith Wharton has ably captured the lifestyle and temperament of that particular section of affluent American society in the early 20th century.This is a book definitely worth reading.
Readers looking for a book where they can closely identify with a sympathetic hero and heroine and look forward to a romantically happy ending will be disappointed. Those interested in a survey of social mores in East Coast American 'high society' at the beginning of the twentieth century are more likely to be wryly entertained.