The Custom of the Country

Front Cover
General Books LLC, 2010 - Fiction - 242 pages
Excerpt: ...to bring her back? Perhaps it had been sent with Ralph's connivance! No doubt Bowen had written home about her-Washington Square had received some monstrous report of her doings!... Yes, the cable was clearly an echo of Laura's letter-mother and daughter had cooked it up to spoil her pleasure. Once the thought had occurred to her it struck root in her mind and began to throw out giant branches. Van Degen followed her to the window, his face still flushed and working. "What's the matter?" he asked, as she continued to stare silently at the telegram. She crumpled the strip of paper in her hand. If only she had been alone, had had a chance to think out her answers! "What on earth's the matter?" he repeated. "Oh, nothing-nothing." "Nothing? When you're as white as a sheet?" "Am I?" She gave a slight laugh. "It's only a cable from home." "Ralph?" She hesitated. "No. Laura." "What the devil is SHE cabling you about?" "She says Ralph wants me." "Now-at once?" "At once." Van Degen laughed impatiently. "Why don't he tell you so himself? What business is it of Laura Fairford's?" Undine's gesture implied a "What indeed?" "Is that all she says?" She hesitated again. "Yes-that's all." As she spoke she tossed the telegram into the basket beneath the writing-table. "As if I didn't HAVE to go anyhow?" she exclaimed. With an aching clearness of vision she saw what lay before her-the hurried preparations, the long tedious voyage on a steamer chosen at haphazard, the arrival in the deadly July heat, and the relapse into all the insufferable daily fag of nursery and kitchen-she saw it and her imagination recoiled. Van Degen's eyes still hung on her: she guessed that he was intensely engaged in trying to follow what was passing through her mind. Presently he came up to her again, no longer perilous and importunate, but awkwardly tender, ridiculously moved by her distress. "Undine, listen: won't you let me make it all right for you to stay?" Her heart began...

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User Review  - jaysbooks - LibraryThing

about a horrible, selfish social climber--main character is so annoying that I could barely force myself to finish the book--proves that women today are lucky to be educated with careers so they can divert their energy toward better things than parties clothes and status Read full review

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User Review  - DeltaQueen50 - LibraryThing

The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton tells the story of Undine Spragg, a Midwestern girl who attempts to scale the heights of New York City society. Undine is one of the most unique characters I ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

Edith Wharton (1862-1937), American novelist and short-story writer, was born in New York City. Strongly influenced by Henry James, she is best known for her subtle and su-perbly crafted studies of the tragedies and ironies in the lives of members of middle-class and artistocratic New York soci-ety in the the nineteenth century. She was educated in New York and Europe, and married Edward Wharton, a Boston banker, in 1885. When her husband became mentally ill, she cared for him until 1913, when she settled permanently in France and divorced him. Among her best and most characteristic works are The House of Mirth (1905) and The Age of Innocence (1920), for which she received a Pultizer prize.

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