I haven’t done a Booking Through Thursday question in a long time! And the answer is no, I don’t. I really, really hate spoilers. I prefer to know pretty much nothing about a book going into it. I used to read the flaps or back cover because I didn’t have an effective way of getting recommendations, but I am always irritated when I’m halfway through a book and the events on the back cover haven’t happened yet. I prefer to go into a book knowing virtually nothing about its contents. Maybe a general idea of what it’s about, where it’s set, that sort of thing, really as vague as possible. I like to know that others thought it was good and worth a read, but really books work best when they’re left to unfold on their own.
I do occasionally read the flaps after I’ve finished, but I generally find that they’re getting more spoilery as time goes on. Maybe that’s just because my hatred of spoilers is growing, but this is why I write my own summaries. I try to give as little away as possible, but I know other people would probably like to know what a book is about, so I do continue to include that first paragraph of summary.
This is my first time participating in this meme, hosted by Alyce of At Home with Books. Since it’s Edith Wharton’s turn on the Classics Circuit and I’ll be bringing you a review of one of her books, The Custom of the Country, later this month, I decided to feature my favorite, The Age of Innocence.
I adore this book. I was frustrated in high school by a lack of new reads. I liked mostly the same stuff as I do now, but there was a whole lot more romance and fantasy reading going on then, as I needed a lot of comfort with all the angst and drama that goes hand in hand with teenagerhood. I think eventually I wanted something a little deeper. I don’t remember how my teacher recommended Edith Wharton to me. I read a lot of great books through her senior year; she gave us both fascinating modern literature and a great selection of classics, and I often wish I owned more of the books we read that year so I could give them a try as an older reader. I know I started with Ethan Frome and loved that. Then I moved on to this, and I really liked it on the first reading. Eventually we had to choose a book to write a research paper on, and I decided to go with this one.
It was only digging through it and isolating its themes that I completely fell in love with it. This happens to me a lot, because apparently whenever I pick a book apart and it holds up to my digging, it becomes a favorite. I love the image of the restrained New York society and how Newland is inspired so deeply by Ellen Olenska to realize just how stifled he is, but struggles with the conflict between his passion and his duty. Edith Wharton’s writing is beautiful and brings me deeply into this novel every time I read it. And, this may constitute a spoiler so skip the rest of this paragraph if you haven’t read it, I love the ending, although I was devastated the first time. I thought it was perfect for the story as a teenager and that view has remained the same. It’s a gorgeous, tragic novel that simply astonishes me. It’s a book that I want to start again every time I read it.
This is actually one of my top two of all time. The other is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. This is why I should read more classics!