Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Reckoning- Edith Wharton

The Blurb

'If marriage was the slow life-long acquittal of a debt contracted in ignorance, then marriage was a crime against human nature.'

Two moving stories of love, loss, desire and divorce, from one of the great chroniclers of nineteenth-century New York life.

Introducing Little Black Classics: 80 books for Penguin's 80th birthday. Little Black Classics celebrate the huge range and diversity of Penguin Classics, with books from around the world and across many centuries. They take us from a balloon ride over Victorian London to a garden of blossom in Japan, from Tierra del Fuego to 16th-century California and the Russian steppe. Here are stories lyrical and savage; poems epic and intimate; essays satirical and inspirational; and ideas that have shaped the lives of millions.

Edith Wharton (1862-1937). Wharton's works available in Penguin Classics are Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence, The Custom of the Country and The House of Mirth.

The Review

I was really excited by the launch of the Penguin Little Black classics books- 80 books to celebrate 80 years of the brand, all for 80p each.  Bargain!  On my recent trip to London I decided to treat myself to a few, and The Reckoning was the one I had my eye on from the off.

I've only read one book by Edith Wharton before, Ethan Frome which I first read many years ago when my husband had it as a set text on his English degree.  It has remained a firm favourite, a dark and haunting tale of deception which stays in the mind long after closing the final page.

The Reckoning is a different genre totally- two unlinked short stories, each with female protagonists with issues.  The first story was my favourite, focussing on the importance of the view from her window to a reclusive widow, but it is the second story which has stayed with me.  I wouldn't say I enjoyed it whilst reading, although the story is told with precision and a deliberate voice, but it is so immensely powerful and exceptionally thought provoking.  Marriage, and divorce, are explored in a controversial fashion in a tight wordcount- and left me with a sour taste and a lump in my throat.

I really need to read more of Wharton's work, because it is moving and controversial and so gorgeously bleak.

The Reckoning is out now, published by Penguin.

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