Tag Archives: Lawrence Selden

House Of Mirth Book Review

In 1905, Edith Wharton introduced the world to a new heroine: Lily Bart. Lily is the heroine of The House Of Mirth, Edith Wharton’s commentary of the lives of women who were part of the upper classes in the early 20th century.

Lily is the product of her time.  When the novel starts, she is at the height of her power. She has a small income, however, she is very well connected and hopes to receiving an inheritance from her aunt. At the age of 29, Lily knows that she has to marry. She turns down several proposals while having a will they or won’t they flirtation with Lawrence Selden, a barrister with whom marriage is out of the question.

Due to a gambling debt, she accepts money from a friend’s husband who wants more than a thank you for his generosity. Her reputation and her income soon fall. She looses her circle of friends and is forced to find other ways to survive.

I saw the movie last month, I finally got my hands on a copy of the book yesterday.  I loved the movie and I love this book.  Ms. Wharton’s sharp commentary on the very shallow values that dictated society at that time is absolutely perfect. What I also love is that this book makes the perfect case for why Feminism is still needed.

I get the feeling that if Lily had lived in our time, she would have thrived and survived. But, she is from high society in 1905, when an upper class woman’s only choice of profession was that of wife and mother.

I highly recommend this book.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Edith Wharton, Feminism

House Of Mirth Review

Edith Wharton‘s 1905 novel, The House  Of Mirth is about the tradition and contradictions in early 20th century New York.

The 2000 film adaptation of the novel stars Gillian Anderson as Lily Bart. She is the star of the social scene, but foolish when it comes to financial matters. She turns down several marriage offers and has a will they or wont they flirtation with Lawrence Selden (Eric Stoltz). When she innocently accepts money from Gus Trenor (Dan Akroyd), who is married to her best friend Judy (Penny Downie), her social standing begins to fall.

I saw this movie for the first time last night and though I have yet to read the book, I will do so shortly.  Edith Wharton, in this novel is a feminist. She writes about upper class women, who in the early 20th century were expected to marry. Education beyond a certain point and a career was out of the question. Lily is unmarried; a woman’s reputation or lack there of, especially a unmarried woman’s reputation at that time could be her best friend or her worst enemy. Anderson who is best known for her role as Dana Scully on the X-Files, completely breaks with the iconic sci-fi character to play a woman whose life spirals out of control.

The supporting cast includes Jodhi May, Elizabeth McGovern, Laura Linney and Anthony LaPaglia.

I highly recommend this movie.

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Filed under Books, Edith Wharton, Feminism, Movie Review, Movies