DNF: "The House of Mirth" by Edith Wharton

That’s it.  I’m calling it.  It has been 10 days, and I’m still not even halfway through this book.  It has put me to sleep more often than it has excited me.  I don’t have time to force myself through a book I’m not enjoying just to say that I’ve read it.  So, there.  It’s done.  It’s officially a DNF.  I may come back to it someday, but I’m having bad memories of The Age of Innocence.  I didn’t much like that one either, but in order to be fair, I needed to give Wharton another shot.  But I have to face facts – Wharton just isn’t for me.

I can see what is playing out here:  Poor Lily Bart is getting older, wants to marry someone rich even though she can’t stand any of the really rich guys.  Also, she actually likes this one guy and he even likes her back, but he is sadly just not rich enough for her.  What is a girl to do??  Honestly, I don’t care.   Sure, the writing is pretty and she has a great vocabulary (though when she finds a word she likes she tends to use it over and over).  But I just don’t care about these people or this story.  I tried to stick with it – but I honestly already feel better with this decision.

Now….  what’s up next??

13 thoughts on “DNF: "The House of Mirth" by Edith Wharton

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  1. Gasp! A Wharton basher! I can't believe it. Age of Innocence is one of my favorites. I didn't appreciate Ethan Frome until the third read, though, so I can see where you're coming from. I haven't read House of Mirth, yet.


  2. Read the last chapter. That's what I did. If I don't enjoy the way the author is laying out the tale, I peek ahead because I can then enjoy watching how the author takes me to where I know we're headed. (Only a suggestion! Bearing in mind I'm a tad of an upside down reader.) 🙂


  3. Oh noes! I liked The House of Mirth and loved The Age of Innocence! Anyway, I'm sorry to hear that it didn't work out for you. I loved the language, the details and, the satire. I also thought it was interesting to read and compare HOM and AOI.

    Maybe I really grooved on HOM and AOI because I read both along with LitHouseWife and we really got into them. We also watched the movies together via tweetchat. We had debates about Lily (#ohlily) and marveled at how Scorcese made visual some of the subtler themes in the book.

    Interestingly, I happened to pick up a Candace Busnell novel later (Lipstick Jungle) and found some common ground between Wharton and Bushnell! Bushnell's writing isn't nearly as evocative or sophisticated; but it's sharp and satirical while still holding an affection for the characters.

    Oh, well, sorry to hear it made your DNF pile, but it sounds like you make an honest effort. Better luck next time 🙂


  4. Hmmm, I had my eye on House of Mirth for later in the year. I'm already tired so I don't need any help in putting me to sleep. 🙂 I can understand, though. Maybe it's not for you or not at this time.

    I would give you the Wharton Basher award…but since you're not accepting any awards….


  5. I happen to like this book very much–it may be my favorite of the wharton books I've red–but I can totally see how it's not everybody's jam. If the story were transported to a modern day setting, I would be with you and just not care about these money relationships, but because it's a different era I'm more willing to accept Lily Bart's choices to marry for money.


  6. I am fascinated by people's diff reactions to book. We have several in common (Edgar Sawtell, Anna K, Into Thin Air, and even Twilight). But we had such different experiences w/House of Mirth!

    Bravo for trying Wharton again after not liking Age of I. I tend to ignore authors after a bad read.

    Sarah @WordHits
    p.s. apologies if this posts twice …OpenID does not like WordPress.


  7. If you're struggling that much, definitely let it go. I hope you're onto much better things. 🙂 I felt the same way about this one, though I enjoyed most of The Age of Innocence (once I MADE myself sit and read X number of pages per day).


  8. There's nothing like that feeling of relief when you finally decided to DNF a book you're just NOT enjoying at all.

    Also, I HATED Ethan Frome and I've been super hesitant to try another Wharton book. I may attempt Summer or The Age of Innocence soon, but I may also fall into the Wharton-basher camp. We'll see!


  9. Even though I generally like Edith Wharton, I had a hard time with House of Mirth. I started out with high hopes but then just skimmed the last half. Good for you for DNFing it! I really should have done the same and moved on sooner.


  10. Even with your review, I'm still looking forward to reading some Wharton. I went to a panel about her at the 2012 Boston Book Festival and I found it intriguing. Hopefully I can get through her as I bought both Mirth and Innocence. I vaguely remember Ethan Frome from High School, but that's on my re-read list.


  11. I'm the opposite of many. I was underwhelmed by The Age of Innocence but I absolutely loved this book and read it practically all ine one day. I also loved Ethan Frome and I love her short stories.

    But you shouldn't force yourself if you don't like it. There are so many great books, why torture yourself?


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