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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (53,995 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Edith Wharton Narrator: Susie Berneis Publisher: Dreamscape Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2013 ISBN: 9781624069932
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Set in the 1870s, Edith Wharton examines the American elite culture on the East Coast. Newland Archer is a lawyer and heir to one of New York City’s most prominent families. He is arranged to be married to May Welland. Newland is pleased with the prospect, until he meets Countess Ellen Olenska, May’s older cousin. Suddenly, Newland begins to doubt his arranged marriage and society’s shallow rules as his attraction to Ellen increases.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “There is no woman in American literature as fascinating as the doomed Madame Olenska.”

    Gore Vidal

  • “Will writers ever recover that peculiar blend of security and alertness which characterizes Mrs. Wharton and her tradition?”

    E. M. Forester

  • “Wharton’s characters leap out from the pages and…become very real. You know their hearts, souls, and yearnings and the price they pay for those yearnings.”

    San Francisco Examiner

  • Winnner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Blake Charlton | 2/20/2014

    " elegant, incisive prose that lays out a subtle and invocation tale of conformity, passion, and privilege. the characters are complex, wonderfully drawn. the first novel written by a woman to win the pulitzer prize. the american jazz age interpreting the gilded age. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 kyle | 2/20/2014

    " While finding myself consistently compelled to read on, I kept asking myself how relevant Wharton's tale of privileged New Yorkers of the 1870s and their social constraints was to me now in 2013? So many of her characters' concerns come off as trivial. But as the novel progressed and especially at its powerful concluding chapter, I realized that this is more than a depiction of dated conventions. Archer realizes that despite his enormous privilege, he cannot in fact have everything he desires in his life. He must choose. As a 30 year old I found myself with sympathy to his plight. Though only awarded 4 stars what I'm really curious is how much this tale will haunt me in a month, a year, 10 years. Time will tell. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jshea | 2/19/2014

    " Slow start but worth sticking it out. Amazed at how much of the author's social commentary still applies today. Btw if anyone readin "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brett | 2/17/2014

    " Most of the time I was reading this I was comparing it to Main Street, which I really enjoyed...which was of course the book it beat out for the Pulitzer that year (1921). Both social satires. Maybe because of the precipitous social status of the characters in Age of Innocence, I didn't connect as well as I did to main street. The prose was flawless though - really well written tale of "the one that got away." You always feel bad for the character that plays it safe and does what's expected rather than what his heart tells him...because almost everyone has done that at least once in their life and regretted it. The ending of A.o.I. was perfect - really brought it all together. That being said - Main Street should've won the award. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kseniya | 2/16/2014

    " I can't believe I've made it so many years without reading this book. A masterpiece! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrea Buschman | 2/13/2014

    " A bit slow at the start, but as I told a friend who was also reading this, it is a book to be savored, not rushed. Newland Archer is our main character, he is engaged to May Welland, and has a curious attraction to her cousin Ellen Olenska. In this novel, we see New York high society at their best and worst, the fine clothes, the dinner parties, the scandals that can turn one to an instant outcast. We may not appreciate such attitudes now, but I think this book captures the time period. Does anyone serve canvas backs or terrapin at dinner parties anymore? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Esther Davidson | 2/13/2014

    " I read The Age of Innocence because it is a classic and I like to work my way through a few every year. I found the social situations and explainations much more difficult to grasp than the typical Jane Austen type novel. Even though this is one about American society, the rankings are determined more by who one is related to than their profession, monetary holdings or any previous scandals. I did find it refreshing that since the book is written from a male point of view the adulterous scandals of Newland Archer's contemporaries are pretty plainly stated instead of hinted at or ignored altogether. The ending was rather predictable and yet disappointing at the same time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Apryl | 2/11/2014

    " Wharton is like an American Jane Austen only w/o the fluffiness. The same subtle sarcastic satire prevails and makes this story deep with layers. I really liked it. For me it's one of those stories that settled in my soul and will probably stay awhile. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gmh357 | 2/11/2014

    " held up well. Interesting take on the times. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jennifer | 2/8/2014

    " This book had a slow start for me. I had to listen to the audiobook to get me through the first few chapters, then it started to pick up. I do have to appreciate the amount of detail and description by Wharton. This book was a very good portrayal of what New York high society was like in the 20's. When we live in a world where everyone lives for themselves it was interesting to read about a time where the worst thing you could do was something that would embarrass your family. It was a little saddening when I realized that Newland would never man up because as much as he hated it, he had a duty as a husband and he could not bring shame to his family, even if it resulted in an unfulfilled unhappy life. "...with a shiver of foreboding he saw his marriage becoming what most of the other marriages about him were: a dull association of material and social interests held together by ignorance on the one side and hypocrisy on the other." I really liked the last chapter that fast-forward in time so we could know how Newland's life had turned out and also how societal norms had changed. Overall, it turned out better than I thought it was going to be in the beginning. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karina | 2/2/2014

    " Beautifully written. Life was so very different, not so very long ago... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rh4ps0dy | 1/31/2014

    " Read it. Cried. Loved it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Greg | 1/24/2014

    " Saw a play last weekend about a book club. Wharton & "Age" were heavily referenced and this being one of my LitGaps (tm), when I ran across a copy on the shelf Wednesday, I thought it was time. It was. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heidi | 1/23/2014

    " Didn't love this book as I thought I would. Much about the early upper class society and the standards that were expected of this society at the time. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carole | 1/20/2014

    " I really enjoyed the movie, and expected to like the book at least as much. However, the story greatly benefitted from being condensed to movie length. Almost nothing HAPPENS, it's all thinking and talking. Too slow for my taste. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lohweiqi | 1/20/2014

    " Wound up feeling so sorry for Newland :-( "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Whitney | 1/20/2014

    " I 100% loved this novel. Wharton's ability to describe someone in one or two sentences is incredible. I'm excited to talk about this in class in reference to the emergence of film in 1920s culture. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alison | 1/18/2014

    " This book gave an interesting glimpse into the culture of early New York. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kika23 | 1/18/2014

    " Quite a good book. I have to admit that it can be a bit slow, though. But I loved the story that to me works like a description of a time of transition between the old traditions and a new way of thinking in old New York. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah Messick-Milone | 1/11/2014

    " Too much a book of it's time. I predict this one will eventually fall into complete obscurity, and rightly so. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jay Z | 1/5/2014

    " I just can't even. What is this book? What? Too much. I am dead from the tragedy and brilliance. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julia | 1/4/2014

    " The book is so much better than the movie! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kika23 | 1/2/2014

    " Quite a good book. I have to admit that it can be a bit slow, though. But I loved the story that to me works like a description of a time of transition between the old traditions and a new way of thinking in old New York. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charlotte | 12/28/2013

    " I've not read any Wharton that I did not like. She's top shelf. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathy Zhang | 12/26/2013

    " It was better at the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jessica Jewett | 12/8/2013

    " This will always be one of my favorite novels. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cal Jeannette | 12/3/2013

    " Beautiful book. Loved May and Ellen. Newland, not so much. So much to enjoy - beautiful, intelligent, descriptive writing, great characters, and an insightful story about life and relationships. Enjoyed this book immensely. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Manussawee | 12/3/2013

    " Wonderful ending. Very unexpected, yet... perfect. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Valentina Neumann | 11/24/2013

    " It was an amazing book! But I hated the end Archer is just plain stupid in that last scene!!! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joseph | 10/11/2013

    " This novel really showcases Wharton's skill as an author - from the structure of the narrative, her nuanced depiction of characters, the many-layered themes in the book, and just the awesome (using the literal definition) way she puts words together into outstanding sentences. The woman could write. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alisa Khan | 9/7/2013

    " One of my favorite books of all time. I love Wharton's writing and characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Chambers | 9/1/2013

    " I love a classic that's really good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kariss | 7/30/2013

    " Unrealistic dreams vs someone elses reality of another age. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Fiona Houston | 7/4/2013

    " A little too predictable for 5 stars but great nonetheless "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Becky | 6/17/2013

    " Loved how she uses language. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Miri | 6/13/2013

    " At times I found it heavy to read but it's a good story with with a lot subtlety. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristiana | 5/28/2013

    " "There was no use in trying to emancipate a wife who had not the dimmest notion that she was not free; and he had long ago since discovered that May's only use of the liberty she supposed herself to possess would be to lay it down on the alter of her wifely adoration." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Catherine | 5/4/2013

    " A beautifully written book with the added interest of learning just how far New York society had come in a relatively short time. It also contains one of my favourite lines from a novel - "He had to deal all at once with the packed regrets and stifled memories of an inarticulate lifetime." Genius. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amelita Amy | 3/7/2013

    " Kako je bilo lijepo kad se nekad djevojka crvenjela za svaki pogled ili dodir i kad se voljelo iskreno, sramezljivim pogledima i laskajucim rijecima. <3 Knjiga nije losa,i totalno je laka za citati ali sam ja zapala u neku fazu da mi je sve dosadno :p "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason Bell | 2/26/2013

    " I loved the subtle nuances that Ms. Wharton weaves. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Maddie | 12/22/2012

    " it was okay. kinda hard to keep track of everybody though "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Winifred Radigan | 9/18/2012

    " The subtle wit and gentle treatment of characters trapped in their social milieu really grabbed me. I am finally of the age when it speaks to me rather than puzzles me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 MacKenzie | 9/1/2012

    " This book taught me why it is important to read fiction. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anita Williamson | 8/14/2012

    " Not much of the love story that I love to see. I enjoyed the characters, however adultery is usually a turn-off in a novel. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leila | 7/7/2012

    " There is something about Edith Wharton's writing that touches me in a way that Jane Austen does not. It may be the time period in which she writes, or it may be that I simply relate more to her portrayal of society. Whatever it is, I could not put this book down. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa Brown | 6/27/2012

    " Truly excellent - Wharton crafts tight, biting commentary, all under the veil of what's right and proper. With a minimum of fanfare, characters jump off the page as they wrestle with so many of the same issues of gender and class that we face today. A must read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Michael Mortensen | 6/14/2012

    " This book was so boring I couldn't ever get into it and gave up. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathy Zhang | 5/13/2012

    " It was better at the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Briana | 4/20/2012

    " Steven made fun of me for considering this a "beach read," but Edith Wharton's sharp social commentary, that is in many ways relevant today, was a perfect vacation book: light yet poignant. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sara | 1/23/2012

    " This is one of the best novels I have ever read. I hesitate to call it the best due to my love for Jane Eyre, but I will admit that The Age of Innocence is, for now, one of my top five favorite novels ever. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 James | 1/2/2012

    " Sad commentary on the social mores of the nineteenth century that stifled the ability to love freely. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katryna Ludwig | 10/26/2011

    " Edith Wharton is probably the best writer of Victorian English romances there ever was. In my opinion. She shows us forbidden love, the temptation of love, the depth of being a wife and lover....and much more in this book. Though mild, it was racy for the time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Courtney | 10/2/2011

    " I really enjoyed this one. Not a fast read, but interesting. It's a must-read just because it's become a part of the canon. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah Messick-Milone | 9/19/2011

    " Too much a book of it's time. I predict this one will eventually fall into complete obscurity, and rightly so. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 ÉowynLis deMelian | 9/18/2011

    " absolutely AMAZING! I really loved by reading it "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sinead | 9/9/2011

    " My strongest thought while reading this book was 'why the hell have I not read this book before.' Has jumped rapidly to my favourite books ever list. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brayden | 8/11/2011

    " I can't believe it's taken me this long to read a Wharton novel. I loved the descriptions of the rules and customs of New York upper class social life. Can't wait to read House of Mirth now. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shani Hilton | 8/2/2011

    " Torn. I think Wharton's writing is amazing, obviously. But I spent much of the book reading Archer's musings and wondering why it was, exactly, Ellen loved him. His motivations were clear, hers were less so. The writing was great, but aspects of the story didn't work for me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lesley Bell | 7/25/2011

    " I am disappointed: I am so disappointed in how this book ends. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kdhass23 | 7/18/2011

    " This book takes you back to a time when society dominated people's lives. It makes you think of what you value most, your reputation or your own happiness. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 6/12/2011

    " I wish I could remember the professor's name... I read this first in high school and didn't appreciate it. Then in college I had a great teacher who helped me read it through different eyes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Georg1991 | 5/22/2011

    " This was a good book to find things that are weird then look up in Wikipedia and find out they are actually real. Found some good references to fashion history. But over all the plot was weak. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jay | 5/20/2011

    " I enjoyed the look at life and values. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Willow4 | 5/18/2011

    " I have read this book before and enjoyed it very much "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patricia | 5/15/2011

    " Just one of my all time favorite books. The social pressures and the outcomes that result are timeless. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pylgrym | 5/15/2011

    " Equal parts love and pain. Exquisite. The best of the best. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathy | 5/13/2011

    " My grand daughter read this book in her high school class last year. I realized that I had never read it. As I read it and thoroughly enjoyed it, I wondered at girls of today trying to understand the constraints of society way back when. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alicia | 5/12/2011

    " Well-written story, but not my favorite story line. I don't usually enjoy stories all about social status and married people who long to be with someone who is not their spouse (well, with the one exception of Gone with the Wind!). "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dawnia | 5/12/2011

    " I didn't care for the twisted love story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amie | 5/11/2011

    " This book is an old favorite. I reread it every so often, and never get bored of it. I love Edith Wharton's subtle, skillful way of telling a story, and pulling the reader into its world. I love that I am still in suspense, even knowing exactly how it will end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 5/7/2011

    " Great look at NY society and manners at the start of the 20th century. The relationship between Newland Archer and Countess Ellen Olenska is a bit frustrating. All propriety is maintained in the end! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 DiDi | 5/6/2011

    " This made a great discussion for bookclub. I admit that the first half was slow reading for me, but the second half picked up and I was anxious to see how events played out. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Atw74 | 5/5/2011

    " One of my absolutely favorite books. Just perfect. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristen | 5/3/2011

    " I'm glad I took the time to read The Age of Innocence. I did not expect the ending (which is good!). If you're going to pick up a Wharton novel, I'd start with Ethan Frome or The Bunner Sisters before reading The Age of Innocence. "

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About the Author
Author Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton (1862–1937) was born in New York and is best known for her stories of life among the upper-class society into which she was born. She was educated privately at home and in Europe. In 1894 she began writing fiction, and her novel The House of Mirth established her as a leading writer. Her novels The Age of Innocence and Old New York were each awarded the Pulitzer Prize. She was the first woman to receive that honor. In 1929 she was awarded the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Fiction.

About the Narrator

Susie Berneis is a professional voice-over artist. She has a BA in English and theater from the University of Michigan and more than twenty years of community theater experience. Her audiobook narrations include The Secret of Raven Point by Jennifer Vanderbes, which won an AudioFile Earphones Award in 2014.