Tag Archives: Pulitzer Prize

First Edition ‘The Age of Innocence’ by Edith Wharton #oldbooks #bookcovers

Published in 1920, The Age of Innocence was Edith Wharton’s twelfth novel and the one which would win her the Pulitzer Prize in 1921; the first woman to do so. This [below left] is the American first edition, published by D Appleton.

It is said the first choice of the Pulitzer judges was Main Street by Sinclair Lewis, which was rejected on ‘political grounds’. Wharton’s story first appeared in 1920 in the magazine Pictorial Review, serialised in four parts, then published in book form in the USA by D Appleton.

Edith Wharton

The Age of Innocence – character study by Joshua Reynolds

It is believed the title of the novel was taken from the painting by Joshua Reynolds [above] which was much reproduced in the late 18th century and came to represent the commercial face of childhood.

Edith Wharton

Wordsworth Classics current ed 1994

The current edition by Wordsworth Classics [above] dates from 1994.

The story
Set in 1870s upper class New York society, The Age of Innocence was set around the time of Wharton’s own birth. She wrote the book had allowed her to find “a momentary escape in going back to my childish memories of a long-vanished America… it was growing more and more evident that the world I had grown up in and been formed by had been destroyed in 1914.”
Gentleman lawyer Newland Archer is due to marry the shy and beautiful May Welland until he encounters May’s cousin. The exotic Countess Ellen Olenska pays no court to society’s fastidious rules and, scandalously, is separated from her husband, a Polish count. To avoid scandal, Ellen is advised to live separately from her husband rather than pursue divorce. Newland tries to forget Ella and marries May but their marriage is loveless. Newland and Ellen meet again and as Newland falls in love with Ellen his behaviour breaks the rules of accepted behaviour. When he finally decides to follow Ellen to Europe, May announces she is pregnant.

Other editions


Edith Wharton

film poster 1993

The 1993 film [above] starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Newland Archer, Michelle Pfeiffer as the Countess Olenska and Winona Ryder as May Welland, was directed by Martin Scorsese. Watch the trailer.

Edith Wharton

film poster 1934

A 1934 film [above] with the same title took inspiration from the Wharton novel but set the action two generations later. Dallas Archer has fallen in love with a married woman, to the displeasure of all his family except his grandfather Newland Archer. And in 1924, a black and white film of The Age of Innocence [below] starred Elliott Dexter as Newland.

Edith Wharton

film poster 1924

If you like old books, check out these:-
It’ by Stephen King 
Ulysses’ by James Joyce
Five on a Treasure Island’ by Enid Blyton

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
First Edition THE AGE OF INNOCENCE by Edith Wharton #oldbooks #bookcovers https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4aX via @SandraDanby

#BookReview ‘Olive Kitteridge’ by @LizStrout #literary #contemporary

Elizabeth StroutThere are some books you read and as soon as you finish them, you want to go back to the beginning. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout made me feel like that. Strout’s writing style is at once beautiful and expressive, economical and un-wordy. She tells you enough detail to create the picture, not one word too many.

The structure is not a linear narrative, instead Strout tells the story of Olive in a series of inter-connected stories set in the small town of Crosby, Maine, where Olive lives with husband Henry. Some stories are told from Olive’s viewpoint, others by by neighbours and people whose path crosses hers; her dry irascible tone made me smile often, but also frown. Olive can be caustic, she tells it as it is. She does not suffer fools and believes she is always correct, though recently her vision of herself has been challenged.  Living in one place for such a long time means she has left a trail through generations of friends, neighbours, shop owners, passers-by and the schoolchildren she once taught. Strout has created a realistic character who is imperfect of whom you warm to because of her faults and because she is as thoughtful and kind as she is prickly.

When the novel starts, Olive is already retired. This is the story of how she deals with ageing and the realisation that her life will have to adapt, her expectations tempered. Actually, Olive doesn’t deal with any of this well whether it is nosy acquaintances or nosy children, of the latter she says, ‘the child out to have her mouth washed out with soap.’ Unaware of the effect she has on others, particularly Henry and their son, Christopher, Olive ploughs on regardless. She seems angry all the time and I was curious about the source of this anger.

If you like novels with a clear straightline story, then this may not be for you. Strout compiles her novels with a patchwork of stories, Olive is the thread that holds everything together. You have to trust the author to tell you the story her way.

A 5* book for me.


Strout was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for Olive Kitteridge and Frances McDormand played Olive in the HBO television series of Olive Kitteridge. Olive Kitteridge

Read my reviews of My Name is Lucy Barton and Anything is Possible.

If you like this, try:-
The Stars are Fire’ by Anita Shreve
Gilead’ by Marilynne Robinson
The Goldfinch’ by Donna Tartt

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
OLIVE KITTERIDGE by @LizStrout #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3YZ via @SandraDanby