Edith Wharton’s classic 1920 novel, The Age Of Innocence, can be described as the clash between personal desire and the driving force that tells us to do what is right and honorable.
Newland Archer is the scion of a well respected late 19th century New York society family. He is engaged to marry May Welland, the daughter of another well respected New York Society family. Newland has always done what is right and proper, never considering his own wants and needs. Then the Countess Ellen Olenska enters his life. Ellen, who is his fiance’s cousin, is attempting to divorce her abusive European aristocratic husband.
Initially Newland looks to help Ellen, who has become an outcast due to the divorce, because she is soon to be his cousin by marriage. But he will soon discover that he and Ellen have a spark and he must decide what he wants from life and who he wants to spend his life with.
In 1993, The Age Of Innocence was made into a movie with Daniel Day Lewis as Newland, Winona Ryder as May and Michelle Pfeiffer as Ellen.
I like both the book and the movie. Certain novels are considered classics because within the story or the characters, there is something we all can relate to, regardless of the time and place that the author set the story in. This novel is no different. What we as individuals need and want versus what the larger society tells us what we should need and want is a struggle that has never ceased.
I recommend both.
Edith Wharton’s Age Of Innocence is a classic. Newland Archer’s inner struggle between personal desire and duty is timeless.
Francesca Segal’s debut novel, Innocence, moves the story from Gilded Age New York to a predominately Jewish suburb in North London. Newland Archer has become Adam Newman. Adam’s life is well ordered and perfect. He is living in the same community he was born into, newly engaged to Rachel Gilbert, his longtime girlfriend and working for Rachel’s father at his law firm.
His world and his decision making is turned when Ellie, Rachel’s independent, rebellious and headstrong cousin returns from New York, running from a scandal. When Adam takes on Ellie’s case, he begins to question if his well ordered and perfect life is really what he wants.
There are some fans who are so cannon (fanfiction term for original script or novel) that any reboot which removes the characters and story line from their original setting seems blasphemous. I am not one of those fans.
However, there is something to be said when a writer takes a risk and tells a new story, instead of retreading the path of another writer. It doesn’t take much to change Ellen Olenska, a woman trying to divorce her abusive European aristocratic husband to Ellie Schneider, a young woman escaping a sex scandal involving a prominent public figure.
Did I enjoy the novel? I can’t say I didn’t, but I look forward to her next novel when she tells a new story instead of re-writing an old one.