The Fruit of the Tree
1914. Wharton, American author, is best known for her stories and ironic novels about upper class people. Wharton's central subjects were the conflict between social and individual fulfillment, repressed sexuality, and the manners of old families and the nouveau riche, who had made their fortunes in more recent years. Among her numerous novels, short stories, and travel writings are The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome, and the Pulitzer prize-winning Age of Innocence. The Fruit of the Tree focuses on Justine Brent, a professional nurse who is called upon to attend her childhood friend Bessy Westmore, a rich textile mill owner left paralyzed by a riding accident. When Bessy begs to be released from a life of intense pain and suffering, Justine debates the moral issues and makes the difficult choice to administer a lethal dose of morphine. After Bessy dies, Justine falls in love with her widowed husband and joins him in his efforts to create better conditions for the factory workers. Questions surrounding Bessy's death, however, haunt their relationship, and Justine learns firsthand the tragic consequences of social idealism and reform. Highly controversial at the time of its publication the book, and its themes, are still relevant to today's reader. See other titles by this author available from Kessinger Publishing.
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