Tag Archives: The House of Mirth

Told ya so.

The House of Mirth  Book 1, chapter 15

Lily has major money problems, and her aunt is not going to help.  So while Lily stays home “lunching and dining alone with her aunt“.  The aunt “complained of flutterings of the heart…”

I wrote in my journal: “Is the aunt going to die?  Will her heart fail?”

Yes. Yes, she will die.  Yes, her heart will fail.

Wharton doesn’t wait long to kill off Mrs. Peniston.  By Book 2, chapter 4, it’s all over.

Did I call it or what?!  Maybe for this whole DIY Master’s Degree thing, I’ll minor in foreshadowing.

PS.  While I’m braggin’ about my mad prediction skillz…
At the end of chapter 15, Lily receives an invitation to go on a cruise with the Dorsets.

Will you join us on a cruise in the Mediterranean?

There’s no question.  Lily will pack her bags.  She’s do anything to avoid her problems.

Yep, I’m definitely minoring in foreshadowing.


1 Comment

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in The House of Mirth


Tags: , , ,

Socialite Suspense

Book 1, chapter 13

My chapter notes:

Gus Trenor tricks Lily Bart into coming over.  He wants “payment” for the money he gave her.  Lily Bart hates herself for allowing the situation to happen.  She’s afraid.  Her normal man-tricks aren’t working on Trenor.  Eventually Trenor remembers his proper upbringing, and Lily Bart leaves the home.  A mysterious stranger (who we find out in the next chapter is Selden) sees her leaving the Trenor home at an improper hour when the lady of the house is not there.

**** This reminds me of Crime and Punishment!  When Svidrigailov meets up with Dounia and reveals that her brother Raskolnikov is a murderer.

I think this is HoM’s most suspenseful chapter.
How did this chapter make you feel about GusTrenor?


Posted by on May 19, 2013 in The House of Mirth


Tags: , , ,

Spring Cleaning

My house needs sprucing up.  I missed spring cleaning, and I need some motivation to declutter, organize, and deep-clean.

I know!  I’ll invite two literary characters over for tea.  They will have lots of advice that will inspire me in my tasks.

Who’s coming to my “Tidy-up Tea”?  Why Mrs. Peniston from The House of Mirth and Miss Ophelia  from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, of course!   Between Mrs. Peniston’s enthusiasm for going through every closet and cabinet in chapter 9  of her book and Miss Ophelia’s ideas for Dinah’s kitchen organization in her book, I’ll be set.

Can you think of anyone else I should invite?  Because I think Peniston and Ophelia could easily have a cleaning/organizing television show on TLC.


Tags: , , , , ,


What does the central character (or characters want?
What is standing in his (or her) way?  (
WEM, pg. 73)

Recognize those WEM questions?
Edith Wharton helps us with one of the answers in chapter 8.

If Lily Bart wants a wealthy husband and the acceptance of her peers,
then what’s standing in her way?

Perhaps the question is who is standing in her way?

“I envy Gerty that power she has of dressing up with romance all our ugly and prosaic arrangements!  I have never recovered my self-respect since you showed me how poor and unimportant my ambitions were.”

The words were hardly spoken when she realized their infelicity.  It seemed to be her fate to appear at her worst to Selden.

“I thought, on the contrary,” he returned lightly, “that I had been the means of proving they were more important to you than anything else.”

“It was as if the eager current of her being had been checked by a sudden obstacle which drove it back upon itself.  She looked at him helplessly, like a hurt or frightened child: this real self of hers, which he had the faculty of drawing out of the depths, was so little accustomed to go alone!

There you have it.

Selden = obstacle

Okay, maybe it’s a little more complicated than that.  Selden intentionally “holds a mirror” up to Lily.  With him, she admits who she truly is.  He removes her mask, and she’s forced to look at herself.

Maybe it is that simple.

Selden = obstacle

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in The House of Mirth


Tags: , , , ,

Goodbye, Lily Bart

House of Mirth Check-in

Did you think I was telling you something about the ending of the book?

Nope!  No spoilers here.  It’s just my way of saying that Christina, Jeannette, and I have all finished reading The House of Mirth.  How are you doing with Wharton’s classic?

Did you finish?  Well, then…

1. Congratulate yourself on checking off another novel from our list!
2. Take The House of Mirth sparknotes quiz.
3. Start the WEM questions.  Remember our resolution?  No stalling!
4. Secure a copy of our next title: The Great Gatsby.  Can you believe our timing?
5. Compare this movie version with the book.
6. Read something for fun!

Still reading?  That’s okay too.  We still have lots to say about the novel.
Please share your place in the comments.

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in The House of Mirth


Tags: ,


The House of Mirth chapter 8

Lily Bart and Gerty Farish are looking over the display of wedding gifts at the Stepney wedding reception.  Gerty is enjoying the evening, happy for the newlyweds.  Lily does not catch the bouquet; she catches a serious case of envy.

Wharton crafts a beautiful description of the bride’s jewels, and then she writes the sentences which turned me against Lily Bart.

The glow of the stones warmed Lily’s veins like wine.  More completely than any other expression of wealth they symbolized the life she longed to lead, the life of fastidious aloofness and refinement in which every detail should have the finish of a jewel, and the whole form a harmonious setting to her own jewel-like rareness.

I’m so disappointed in Miss Lily Bart.  Jewelry “warms [her] veins like wine“?!  ugh.



1 Comment

Posted by on May 9, 2013 in The House of Mirth


Tags: , , ,

Would you have been friends with Lily Bart?

House of Mirth Check-in

How did your reading go this week?
Did the spring weather lure you away from our New York socialites?

I have to say that I’m a little concerned about the choices Lily’s making.  I wonder if I would have been friends with her.  Would I have been drawn in by her endearing qualities, as so many of the characters are, or would I have seen her as a living version of the tabloid covers and run from all of the drama?  Hmmm…

Have you finished Book 1?  Are you in the midst of Book 2?
Please share your place in the comments.


Posted by on May 6, 2013 in The House of Mirth


Tags: ,

Lily’s Russian Cousin

I mentioned in this week’s check-in that I was seeing a few similarities between
Lily Bart and Anna Karenina.

Chapter 2 Lily uses a paper knife to “cut the pages of a novel, tranquilly studying her prey through downcast lashes while she organized a method of attack.  It was with Anna K that we first learned about paper knives.

Later in the same chapter Lily does a little clever maneuvering on the train to get Percy Gryce’s attention. On several occasions Anna Karenina manipulated men with her attentive ear and lovely looks.  Sometimes she did it to get something she wanted and other times it seemed she did it for her own amusement.  Hmmm…There are times when Lily does the same thing.

In chapter 12 Lily steals the show at the Brys home.  The women are doing the artistic tableaux  Remember what she wears?

Her pale draperies, and the background of foliage against which she stood served only to relieve the long dryad-like curves that sept upward from her poised foot to her lifted arm.

Anna’s dress was black, but she also knew exactly what to wear to make herself shine.

Have you noticed other similarities between these two characters?

1 Comment

Posted by on May 4, 2013 in Anna Karenina, The House of Mirth


Tags: , , ,


Do you remember earlier this year when we shared our methods of journaling?  I’d like to give you a peek into my notes for The House of Mirth book 1, chapter 6

Christine’s chapter notes…

LB and Selden go for a walk; she’s free with him.
?  Who’s Omar Khayyam? (I look him up later and find that he was a Persian poet)
Selden’s success is in his personal freedom.
For LB success is getting as much as one can out of life

At this moment I make a prediction:  These two will never be together.

Selden agrees with me.  Look what he says in this chapter.

From whatever angle he viewed their dawning intimacy, he could not see it as part of her scheme of life…

Man. (said with whining)  Selden is the only man in this book that I like even a little.

What do you think?  Is there a future for Selden and Lily?


Posted by on May 3, 2013 in The House of Mirth


Tags: , , , ,


The House of Mirth
Book 1, chapter 4

The windows stood open to the sparkling freshness of the September morning, and between the yellow boughs she caught a perspective of hedges and parterres leading by degrees of lessening formality to the free undulations of the park.

Parterres.   Remember back to Jane Eyre when we encountered this classic word the first time?

I miss Jane.



Posted by on May 2, 2013 in The House of Mirth


Tags: , ,