Edith Wharton is my favorite American author, and The House of Mirth is my favorite American book. It’s much better than The Age of Innocence. You get a better sense of how the American elites interacted with one another at the turn of the century. It seems like their customs are much stiffer than those of Europeans. At least the French and Italians make a sport of teasing each other; Americans are always so polite.
ToM is really tender and painful to read. It’s an excellent story and the language sparkles. There’s a great deal of scheming and plotting.
The title comes from Ecclesiastes 7:4: “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.”