Author Edith Wharton has a phenomenal ability to write about love that is lost and found. A young man by the name of Newland Archer seems to have everything he wants out of life, most notably a beautiful young fiancé named May Welland. Their innocent romance seems unbreakable until the introduction of May's cousin, Ellen Olenska, who is planning on divorcing her husband. As he gets to know her and her more rebellious take on life, Archer finds himself falling in love with her. The nature of their social placements, however, make for a very difficult pursuit of any relationship, and not long after Ellen officially divorces her husband, May and Archer get married rather in a hurry, and it seems that the potential for Archer and Ellen to be together is dashed.
Whereas a man who is overcome with emotion and falls deeply in love with a woman might do everything in his power to see her and be with her, Archer makes some very painful decisions in the later years of his life. At the end of The Age of Innocence, he makes the final decision that effectively brings closure to his relationship with Ellen, and it is one that is as brave as it is heart wrenching.
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