Summary

The first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for literature, Edith Wharton stands among the finest writers of early 20th-century America. In The Custom of the Country, Wharton’s scathing social commentary is on full display through the beautiful and manipulative Undine Spragg. When Undine convinces her nouveau riche parents to move to New York, she quickly injects herself into high society. But even a well-to-do husband isn’t enough for Undine, whose overwhelming lust for wealth proves to be her undoing.
Public Domain (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Philip on 26-06-13

Thick and absorbing

I was looking for another Edith Wharton and listened to all the 'samples' of 'The Custom of the Country' and thought that this one sounded like the best narration.

I often find the scruples of Wharton's characters rather difficult to sympathize with- so it was something of a relief to come across Undine Spragg- who has no scruples at all- she's just a naive, selfish monster battling (rather pathetically) towards a happiness that always lies just beyond her. Certainly she's repulsive but it makes for an interesting character. - and there is plenty of gorgeous period detail along the way.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Esther on 29-07-12

Cannot recommend a better narrator!

Edith Wharton's novel is deliciously enjoyable, especially if you delight in watching detestable characters crush one another and see people behave more brutishly and vulgarly than you could have expected. By "people" I primarily mean the wonderfully named Undine Spragg, a social climber who bulldozes as many people as she can to attain an ever escaping, ever elusive goal of social grandeur and wealth. Wharton's satiric, witty, whip-smart writing fairly sparkles here, and the entire novel has lighter touch, perhaps because about half of it is in the mind of a buffoon, rather than the plodding Archer of Age of Innocence, for example.

But I really want to write about Barbara Caruso here, who should narrate EVERYTHING. She reads with warmth, humor, wit, and imparts an incredible understanding of each of the characters. I wonder about the difficulty of being a reader—she has to play every role, and she does so splendidly. Conflicted characters like Undine, whom one would normally expect to hate, are given depth and conviction. Brava.

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11 of 12 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By T. Anderson on 26-05-18

One of Edith Wharton's best

Edith Wharton's character development is, as always, excellent; which is not to say that the main character is likeable -- she's not! But one of the most shining passages in the novel is the stretch of a few paragraphs surrounding the phrase "custom of the country" which mirrors the title. Here is Wharton's observation of the American culture a century ago, still true today: "American men look down on their wives." She pointed out something that haunted mid-century books by feminists who wrote manifesto-books like the "Feminine Mystique" and the "Female Eunuch." The men are not the enemy here, though; they are mostly likeable and sympathetically treated. Wharton wasn't blaming any particular person or group of persons; she just made observations on the social condition in general while turning out an interesting story with interesting characters.

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