The Age of Innocence
The return of the beautiful Countess Olenska into the rigidly conventional society of New York sends reverberations throughout the upper reaches of society.
Newland Archer, an eligible young man of the establishment is about to announce his engagement to May Welland, a pretty ingénue, when May's cousin, Countess Olenska, is introduced into their circle. The Countess brings with her an aura of European sophistication and a hint of scandal, having left her husband and claimed her independence.
Her sorrowful eyes, her tragic worldliness and her air of unapproachability attract the sensitive Newland and, almost against their will, a passionate bond develops between them. But Archer's life has no place for passion and, with society on the side of May and all she stands for, he finds himself drawn into a bitter conflict between love and duty.
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Could not put this down after I got into the period theme.... but then realised the 1870's 'veneer of what is expected of one's members' are not much different in 2010. A great read ... especially the tongue in cheek descriptions of dress, decor, mannerism's etc that so concisely convey so much more between the lines ... very clever writing indeed.
Suggestions for Further Reading
A Note on the Text
THE AGE OF INNOCENCE