Three beloved novels by Edith Wharton, in a couture-inspired Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition designed by a fashion illustrator for Alexander McQueen. This edition celebrates the 150th anniversary of Edith Wharton's birth in 2012.
The House of Mirth: Nineteen year old Lily Bart is in need of a rich husband to safeguard her place in the social elite. Unwilling to marry without both love and money, Lily becomes vulnerable to gossip. Wharton charts the course of Lily's life, providing a wider picture of a society in transition; a changing New York where old manners, morals and family attitudes are being replaced by the view that an individual is an expendable commodity.
The Custom of the Country: Mr and Mrs Spragg are hoping to forge an entrée into society and arrange a suitably ambitious match for their only daughter. Wharton's story of Undine Spragg affords us a detailed glimpse of the interior décor of upper-class America and its nouveau riche. Through a heroine who is as vain and spoiled as she is fascinating, Wharton conveys a vision of social behaviour that is both informed and disenchanted.
The Age of Innocence: When the Countess Ellen Olenska flees Europe and her brutish husband, her rebellious independence stirs the educated sensitivity of Newland Archer, already engaged to the Countess's cousin May Welland. As the drama unfolds, Edith Wharton's sharp ironic wit and Jamesian mastery of form create a disturbingly accurate picture of men and women caught in a society that denies humanity while desperately defending "civilisation".