July 25, 2010

I just finished and all I can say is “Word.”  Part II of House of Mirth quickly turned into a sort of misfortune porn as Wharton threw more and more travails Lily’s way.  Abandoned in Europe–check.  Disinherited–done.  I know let’s make her a total failure in the professional world too and while we’re at it throw in a nasty drug habit as well.  Sheesh.  It’s like Wharton read Sister Carrie and took it as a challenge. “Oh Dreiser thinks he can mistreat a lady!  Well he ain’t seen nothing yet!”

As to your question about Selden…I can answer that question in two words…Douche. Bag.  With his cowardice and his spouting of sub-The Alchemist style truisms.  Blecch.

But the second half of the book wasn’t all doldrums and sad faces…there was the touching scene with Lily and Nettie Struther’s baby.  And I liked how upon learning that she was disinherited Lily still ponders the larger questions of life

Gerty paused, and then continued firmly: “The important thing is that you should clear yourself–should tell your friends the whole truth.”

“The whole truth?” Miss Bart laughed. “What is truth?”…

Nothing like finding out that you’re penniless to inspire philosophical ponderings.

I was also intrigued by the concept of “hired friend” that seemed to be the role that Lily and Carry Fisher played in this society.  I was unaware this existed…it reminded me of an episode of Pushing Daisies that I watched recently (“Frescorts”–you should watch it–boy I like Pushing Daisies!).

The last question I was left with is what is the word that came to Lily as she entered her final chloral-induced slumber?  And the word that comes Selden that he whispers at her bedside?  Do you think it was the same word? Or do you think that this pair remained out sync to the very end?

Well twin it’s done.  I’d be interested to hear what you thought of the book overall (me–I liked it…I could have used a little less sadness, but it was wittily told).  Also you should hunt yourself up a copy of The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien–for that is what we shall read next!

If there aren’t three policemen in this book…I’m done with reading. I can’t take another ironic title.


P.S. If folks are interested in hearing people who actually have something interesting to say about House of Mirth you may want to check out the Slate Audio Book Club discussion of it. (I like the Slate Audio Book Club almost as much as I like Pushing Daisies!)


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