by Edith Wharton, Maureen Howard (Introduction)
** spoiler alert ** I believe that I had picked this book up before but had not managed to get into it. This time was different, it is so cleverly, sharply written with such breath-taking perception which, I found, incredibly relevant and fresh in describing social classes, accepted 'form' and general rules of society.
On occasion, Newland irritates and I also found I could not quite grasp an imaginative handle on Madame Olenska; she was very indistinct to me, physically which Wharton may have intended as her character is fluid and elusive. However, I like to be able to pinpoint the characters in my mind so the fact that I could not with Ellen which gave less power to her scenes with Newland. The scenes that were brilliantly written were between Newland and May, especially the dinner party. You could also touch and taste the tension radiating between the married couple and, in the room in general.
When I reached the final chapter, I did think it was quite predictable; a lot of these barely-there romances have this final chapter from the decades hence viewpoint so I was a little disappointed - but, it is written so charmingly and there is a slight twist that made pulled it out of the predictable and up into the brilliant.