A literary sensation when it was published by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1905, The House of Mirth quickly established Edith Wharton as the most important American woman of letters in the twentieth century. The first American novel to provide a devastatingly accurate portrait of New York's aristocracy, it is the story of the beautiful and beguiling Lily Bart and her ill-fated attempt to rise to the heights of a heartless society in which, ultimately, she has no part.
From the staid conventionality of Old New York to the forced conviviality of the French Riviera, from the drawing room of Gus Trenor's Bellomont to the dreary resort of a downtown boardinghouse, Wharton created her "first full-scale survey," as her biographer R.W.B. Lewis put it, "of the comédie humaine, American style." A brilliantly satiric yet sensitive exploration of manners and morality, The House of Mirth marked Wharton's transformation from an amateur into a professional writer on par with her contemporary and friend Henry James. It figures among her most important works.
Actress Eleanor Bron played Aunt Julia in the 2000 film adaptation of this Edith Wharton classic, which she brings to life in an enjoyable audio production. At the start, Bron's tones are cool and measured in keeping with heroine Lily Bart's calculated manipulations in arranging her marriage to a fantastically rich if fantastically dull bachelor. But Lily's efforts meet with little success, and Bron ably captures the desperate heroine as her suitor rejects her, her debts mount, and her options narrow. As Lily finds herself alone in what used to seem like a glittering world, Bron's rendition of the character's exhausted disappointment is pitch-perfect. This is a compelling audiobook with a memorable performance from Bron.