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Extended Audio Sample The Touchstone, by Edith Wharton Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (303 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Edith Wharton Narrator: Grace Conlin Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2006 ISBN: 9781455173259
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This spare, mesmerizing novel is Edith Wharton’s money-can’t-buy-happiness tale. Young Stephen Glennard is poor, but he has an unanticipated gambling chip: a collection of love letters from a scorned but now famous lover, the distinguished novelist Margaret Aubyn. To raise money for his forthcoming wedding to another woman, Stephen stoops to selling the letters. His decision brings him wealth and admission to society, but a mystery contained in the missives comes back to haunt him, and it may take a madness of guilt to remind Stephen that he does, after all, have a conscience.

Betrayal, greed, and consequences faced make this sly, masterful story a deft social and psychological portrait to stand with Wharton’s best.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A very unsual and brillant short novel in which a singular situation is worked out with that searching accuracy and psychological detail which characterized Mrs. Wharton’s short stories.”

    Dial, (Feb. 16th, 1900)

  • The Touchstone is without doubt expertly written, and it contains a number of the beautifully articulated insights into the ambiguities of the moral life at which Edith Wharton was becoming a master.” 

    R. W. B. Lewis, biographer

  • “A forgotten Edith Wharton gem.”

    Atlantic

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer Munro | 2/11/2014

    " Fantastic plot, long chewy sentences, surprisingly happy ending, published in 1900 and stands the test of time. "Genius is of small use to a woman who does not know how to do her hair." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karlan | 1/14/2014

    " Wharton's novella captures the psychological problems of a young man who should be happy but who destroys his own chances. Owning a Nook has led me to read more books which I missed when young. This return to authors from the past may be an unforeseen consequence of the E reader. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Faye | 12/29/2013

    " One of the best novellas ever written. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tammy | 12/26/2013

    " This is the first book by Edith Wharton that I did not love. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carol | 10/16/2013

    " It was fascinating how the main character's guilt over his decision affected his whole life. That being said, it's not a book that I'm going to remember for long. It just didn't touch me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jillian | 9/18/2013

    " One of the best closing lines of any novella ever written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cate | 6/20/2013

    " the big take-away from the touchstone is to see wharton on a smaller scale. the characters are all just as desperate as ever to hide their mortifying, and reputation-destroying, past. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maryannkeon | 9/7/2012

    " I recommend any and everything written by Edith Wharton. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 6/30/2012

    " Okay, the emotional upheaval near the end gets a little unrealistic, or just confusing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 4/5/2012

    " What can I say?!!! This writer is something else... Words fail to describe my sudden adoration of her deep style of emotional maturity. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 RunRachelRun | 3/20/2012

    " Picked up from the library this afternoon. Such a slim novella, nearly missed it on the shelf. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Margaret | 2/28/2012

    " Wharton in Jamesian mode again. She does it well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Charlotte | 1/9/2012

    " Perhaps the ending was a bit... too much, but it was a quick and enjoyable read--slightly intense, as always with Wharton, it was emotionally-jarring and thought-provoking. You can tell after reading some of her later works that this was her first published novella, but nevertheless, well-crafted. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Giuliana | 10/11/2011

    " This was Edith Wharton's first novella. Interesting, well written exploration of guilt and honest discourse between a husband and wife. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Holly | 4/14/2011

    " I loved the Ethan From portion. Someday I'll pick this up again and finish the other short stories. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sasha | 3/22/2011

    " The fact that Edith Wharton was unhappily married certainly comes through in this and other stories. Written with subtlety, its bleak imagery painting an outward portrait of the inner suffering of her characters. It's like the New England version of Sartre's "No Exit." "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Emmie | 11/15/2010

    " Fifteenth book of the school year. This was quite possibly the most depressing thing I've had to read in a really, really long time. That's about it. I really do wish I had something a bit more cheery to say about it, but one might notice when reading Ethan Frome that...it's not cheery. At all. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Fred | 9/26/2010

    " loved all but one of the stories in this collection. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kris | 8/22/2010

    " Ethan Frome is probably the most depressing of her stories, although that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. Sad but memorable.

    The short stories that accompany the Frome novella range from OK to hysterical (Xingu being the best - one of the best things I've ever read of Wharton's). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dana | 8/4/2010

    " Book Club required reading. I'm glad I did! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caroline | 7/2/2010

    " I like Edith Wharton's works, but I think my enjoyment of this suffered some from over-analyzing from the English class I read this in. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Noahmay | 6/3/2010

    " Great romance. The middle is sort of boring though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andrew | 1/27/2010

    " I had to read this book for my English class, and I was surprised at how interesting and sad it sometimes got. Definitely a good and easy read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristina | 1/14/2010

    " Ethan Frome is my favorite Wharton novel and it us very different from her New York social life novels like The Age of Innocence. There were three or four additional short stories in the book that were not very strong. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amanda | 12/3/2009

    " I appreciated the writing, but wow, almost every thing in there was super depressing. (Ethan Frome being the piece that put the most fun in dysfunctional.) I think I need some Wodehouse. "

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