Book Review – The Age of Innocence

Posted: November 16, 2015 in Book Reviews
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I’m in a kind of purple patch where every book of mine ends up having an everlasting impression on me. The Age of Innocence took a very long time for me to settle in. In fact only after half the novel got over I got into groove. The Age of Innocence is one of the novels that you don’t understand on first go but makes a lot of sense when you get to know the plot. Once I read about the plot I started getting what the book is actually about.

The Age of Innocence

Having heard of the name ‘The Age of Innocence’ somewhere sometime down the line I was interested to know how I knew the name. Only while looking for it I got to know that Scorsese has made a movie adaptation of this book, which further interested me in reading the book.

Newland Archer is as worse as Barry Lyndon. Poor fellow. I could only feel bad for him the entire time. Now it’s back to back female writers for me. First, The Mill on the Floss and now The Age of Innocence. And both are now at the top of my favorites list. Even though I loved Mary in The Mill on the Floss it wasn’t as epic as Newland Archer here because a female writer writing about another woman and her insecurities is possible but here Edith Wharton’s portrayal of Newland Archer is tougher so even the more commendable. I don’t know how someone could write a character sketch which involves this much insecurities of opposite sex with such suaveness.

The Age of Innocence, it’s being said, is an apology to Edith Wharton’s earlier novel The House of Mirth. If Age of Innocence could be this sick, don’t know how sick The House of Mirth would be. I say this because every line, every description of the individual had an underlying sarcasm in it. It was as cruel as Luis Bunel movies.

You know what added to the sickness. It’s the physical feel of the book. The book being an old one with brown dots and a highly intriguing smell which you could feel going through the nose and residing on top of it like how for Shiva (or at least the fictional one) the poison stops around his neck and becomes blue. Trust me, to have that feeling near the point where your spectacles rest and read this novel is no easy task. But like how even if you have AC, it’d be better to watch The Dog Day Afternoon on a sunny summer afternoon. It added to the feeling.

While reading the book I got to know why this would have interested Mr. Scorsese so much. The eye for details was so terrific that few words in spite of being described in such detail, I wasn’t able to find out what those meant. Those objects were a revelation for me.

Even though the book ended in a way it has to end, the final two paragraphs took my breath away by its dejection. But the final chapter could have been dealt in a different way, rather than being so conclusive. Still… it’s a book written a couple of hundred years back. The book made too much impact by that time so I couldn’t complain much.

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