The Custom of the Country
Publication Date: October 9, 2001
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Highly acclaimed at its publication in 1913, The Custom of the Country is a cutting commentary on America’s nouveaux riches, their upward-yearning aspirations and their eventual downfalls. Through her heroine, the beautiful and ruthless Undine Spragg, a spoiled heiress who looks to her next materialistic triumph as her latest conquest throws himself at her feet, Edith Wharton presents a startling, satiric vision of social behavior in all its greedy glory. As Undine moves from America’s heartland to Manhattan, and then to Paris, Wharton’s critical eye leaves no social class unscathed.
Diane Johnson is the author of ten novels, most recently Le Mariage and Le Divorce, two books of essays, two biographies, and the screenplay for Stanley Kubrick’s classic film The Shining. She has been a finalist four times for the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Awards.
Novels of manners never get old. Any quick flip through one of today's celebrity magazines will prove that. From social climbers to spouse grabbers, century to century, nothing changes. Author Helen Simonson offers three novels for going beyond Jane Austen's gossip. More at NPR.org
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"Edith Wharton's finest achievement."