Edith Wharton's masterpiece
In the narrow, elitist world of upper-class New York, Newland Archer awaits his marriage to May Welland, a young girl 'who knew nothing and expected everything'. Into this potentially delicate situation bursts the mysterious and exotic Countess Olenska - on the run from an appallingly unhappy marriage. As she alternatively captivates and outrages New York society, Newland gradually finds his sympathy for the Countess turning into something far more dangerous. As he does so, he not only gains an insight into society's treatment of those who don't conform but also the anguish of loving outside the rules.
'One of the best novels of the twentieth century' New York Times Review of Books 'A rich and powerful description of a vanished world' Penelope Lively 'There is no woman in American literature as fascinating as the doomed Madame Olenska ... Traditiona
Edith Wharton was born in 1862 in New York, and later lived in Rhode Island and France. Her first novel, The Valley of Decision, was published in 1902, and by 1913 she was writing at least one book a year. During the First World War she was awarded the Cross of the Legion d'Honneur and the Order of Leopold. In 1920, The Age of Innocence won the Pulitzer Prize; she was the first woman to receive a Doctorate of Letters from Yale University and in 1930 she became a member of the American Academy of Arts and letters. She died in 1937.