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The Age of Innocence centers on an upper-class couple’s impending marriage, and the introduction of a woman plagued by scandal whose presence threatens their happiness. Though the novel questions the assumptions and morals of 1870s’ New York society, it never devolves into an outright condemnation of the institution. In fact, Wharton considered this novel an “apology” for her earlier, more brutal and critical novel, The House of Mirth. Not to be overlooked is Wharton’s attention to detailing the charms and customs of the upper caste. The novel is lauded for its accurate portrayal of how the 19th-century East Coast American upper class lived, and this, combined with the social tragedy, earned Wharton a Pulitzer Prize — the first Pulitzer awarded to a woman. Edith Wharton was 58 years old at publication; she lived in that world, and saw it change dramatically by the end of World War I. The title is an ironic comment on the polished outward manners of New York society, when compared to its inward machinations. (Summary by Wikipedia)

Free English Story eBook: The Age of Innocence

Author: Edith Wharton

Book Excerpt / CHAPTER I

On a January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in Faust at the Academy of Music in New York.

Though there was already talk of the erection, in remote metropolitan distances “above the Forties,” of a new Opera House which should compete in costliness and splendor with those of the great European capitals, the world of fashion was still content to reassemble every winter in the shabby red and gold boxes of the sociable old Academy. Conservatives cherished it for being small and inconvenient, and thus keeping out the “new people” whom New York was beginning to dread and yet be drawn to; and the sentimental clung to it for its historic associations, and the musical for its excellent acoustics, always so problematic a quality in halls built for the hearing of music.

It was Madame Nilsson’s first appearance that winter, and what the daily press had already learned to describe as “an exceptionally brilliant audience” had gathered to hear her, transported through the slippery, snowy streets in private
broughams, in the spacious family landau, or in the humbler but more convenient “Brown coupe.” To come to the Opera in a Brown coupe was almost as honorable a way of arriving as in one’s own carriage; and departure by the
same means had the immense advantage of enabling one (with a playful allusion to democratic principles) to scramble into the first Brown conveyance in the line, instead of waiting till the cold-and-gin congested nose of one’s own coachman gleamed under the portico of the Academy. It was one of the great livery stableman’s most masterly intuitions to have discovered that Americans want to get away from amusement even more quickly than they want to get to it.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton Free AudioBook eBook

PUBLISHED: 1920 / 282 Pages

Read Online The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

The Following are Audios in Chapters, Click on link to play and Listen

  1. Book I, Chapter 01
  2. Book I, Chapter 02
  3. Book I, Chapter 03
  4. Book I, Chapter 04
  5. Book I, Chapter 05
  6. Book I, Chapter 06
  7. Book I, Chapter 07
  8. Book I, Chapter 08
  9. Book I, Chapter 09
  10. Book I, Chapter 10
  11. Book I, Chapter 11
  12. Book I, Chapter 12
  13. Book I, Chapter 13
  14. Book I, Chapter 14
  15. Book I, Chapter 15
  16. Book I, Chapter 16
  17. Book I, Chapter 17
  18. Book I, Chapter 18
  19. Book II, Chapter 19
  20. Book II, Chapter 20
  21. Book II, Chapter 21
  22. Book II, Chapter 22
  23. Book II, Chapter 23
  24. Book II, Chapter 24
  25. Book II, Chapter 25
  26. Book II, Chapter 26
  27. Book II, Chapter 27
  28. Book II, Chapter 28
  29. Book II, Chapter 29
  30. Book II, Chapter 30
  31. Book II, Chapter 31
  32. Book II, Chapter 32
  33. Book II, Chapter 33
  34. Book II, Chapter 34

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