330 – Book 2, Chapter 34 – Age of Innocence [End of Book]


Mother, knitter, spinner, writer, wife, weaver, host...not necessarily in that order...

4 Responses

  1. Juliana says:

    This book has given me so much to think about, I’d love to dig into a juicy essay! But the sum of it is that, though a very critical social commentary in the beginning, I feel the end is hopeful. Hopeful about marriage and making it work. Echoing in my mind are the first words Heather said at the end of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, “So, the Boss belongs in the past. With Sandy.” So much time and energy in Newland’s life was wasted on fantasy and angst, but when he recounts the moments that were really “True,” they start when he wakes up to the here and now and Working at paying attention to it. Their relationship is no longer about societal expectations, “old fashioned” or “subservient.” It’s as if all those distractions are instantly shut out and it’s just two self-actualized[ing] adults making sacrifices for each other because they woke up one morning after years of marriage and decided to fall in love.

  2. Prairiepoet says:

    Heather, I thoroughly enjoyed “Age of Innocence.” Brenda Dayne was the perfect reader for this novel. I thought she did an excellent job and as always your commentary was thoughtful and well done. After the final episode, I had several thoughts about the book. I think you touched on this in a beginning episode, but Wharton’s choice of a male narrator was brilliant. As someone who had several difficult relationships, she might have chosen either May or Ellen as the narrator but instead put Newland squarely in the middle. By doing so, she demonstrates how societal restrictions affected both men and women. Heaven knows, women suffered from the repression more than men. However, Newland, as narrator, ties the story together and makes it possible to have a more multilayered novel.

    Did I expect the ending? My answer is yes and no. The last chapter is much like an “afterword” found in contemporary novels. Although I didn’t expect Newland to have a second chance to return to Ellen, I thought his decision not to meet with her was very congruent with his character. Newland’s life and that of his family would have been quite different had he never married May or have been courageous enough to challenge the societal mores of his day. To put the best face on an older Newland, perhaps he finally understood, or even accepted responsibility for his choices. For me, Dallas’ remark to his father about how his parents never talked about anything was also one of the big ideas of the novel.

    Thanks for a great listen. I am looking forward to “North and South.”

    Prairiepoet on Ravelry

    • Heather says:

      Nicely put. And yes, I thought the ending was pretty well summed up by Newland’s oft’ stated, “Oh well…”
      Congruent, indeed.