The Age of Innocence

by Edith Wharton

The Age of Innocence

The Age of Innocence is a 1920 novel by American author Edith Wharton. The story is set in the 1870s, in upper-class, "Gilded-Age" New York City. The story centers on an upper-class couple's impending marriage, and the introduction of the bride's cousin, plagued by scandal, whose presence threatens their happiness. The novel is noted for Wharton's attention to detail and its accurate portrayal of how the 19th-century East Coast American upper class lived, as well as for the social tragedy of its plot. Wharton was 58 years old at publication; she had lived in that world and had seen it change dramatically by the end of World War I.

Source: Wharton, E. (1920) The Age of Innocence New York, NY: D. Appleton & Co.

Part 1, Chapter 2
Newland shows is support for his fiance's family.
Part 1, Chapter 3
Archer and May officially announce their engagement.
Part 1, Chapter 4
Archer and May, now newly engaged, pay a visit to their many friends and relatives. Mrs. Mingott assists May in her wedding preparations.
Part 1, Chapter 5
Mr. Jackson has dinner at the Archer Family home. During dinner, Newland defends the Countess' recent behavior.
Part 1, Chapter 6
Newland ponders his upcoming marriage to May. Newland hopes that he can help the Countess be accepted in high society.
Part 1, Chapter 7
Newland and his mother tell the van der Luydens about the Countess' recent treatment. The van der Luydens extend an invitation to the Countess.
Part 1, Chapter 8
Newland continues to learn more details about the Countess Olenska's past. The Countess and Newland talk at the Duke's reception.
Part 1, Chapter 9
Archer pays a visit to the Countess at her home, where they discuss the many difficulties of life in New York.
Part 1, Chapter 10
Newland and May's discussion of their engagement leaves Newland questioning his future wife's ability to think for herself.
Part 1, Chapter 11
Newland decides he must protect Ellen from herself. Newland meets with Letterblair to discuss the Countess' affairs.
Part 1, Chapter 12
Newland warns Ellen about the possible outcome of the divorce.
Part 1, Chapter 13
At the theater, a particularly moving scene reminds Newland of the Countess.
Part 1, Chapter 14
Newland is approached by Ned as he leaves the theater. Newland accepts an invitation from friends, hoping to come into contact with the Countess.
Part 1, Chapter 15
Newland departs for Florida in spite of a request by Ellen.
Part 2, Chapter 16
Archer visits May in Florida, but finds his mind wondering as he talks with her.
Part 2, Chapter 17
Newland pays a visit to Mrs. Mingott. Medora asks a favor of Newland.
Part 2, Chapter 18
Newland and Ellen discuss possible futures.
Part 2, Chapter 19
May and Newland's wedding day finally comes.
Part 2, Chapter 20
Newland and May travel to Europe for the honeymoon, where they visit with friends.
Part 2, Chapter 21
The newlyweds return to New York where Newland avoids a chance encounter with Ellen.
Part 2, Chapter 22
Bored with married life, Newport decides to visit an old friend.
Part 2, Chapter 23
Newland travels to Boston.
Part 2, Chapter 24
Newland and Ellen's time together gives them the chance to catch up.
Part 2, Chapter 25
Upon arriving in New York, Newland is surprised to meet an acquaintance from London.
Part 2, Chapter 26
Newland discovers new details about Ellen's relationship with the Mingott family, following her decision regarding her marriage.
Part 2, Chapter 27
A financial disaster puts a damper on Newland's plans.
Part 2, Chapter 28
Newland sends a request to Ellen requesting her presence in New York. The Beaufort's financial and social situation continues to worsen.
Part 2, Chapter 29
Archer and Ellen once again discuss their relationship.
Part 2, Chapter 30
Changing circumstances bring Ellen and Newland together again.
Part 2, Chapter 31
Newland discovers that Ellen intends to stay in New York. May informs Newland of a new, unexpected friendship.
Part 2, Chapter 32
The affairs of Mrs. Beaufort and Ellen are the topic of conversation at the van der Luydens home. Newland is greatly affected by news concerning Ellen.
Part 2, Chapter 33
While attending a formal dinner for Ellen, Newland takes notice of the attendees' new kindness toward the honored guest.
Part 2, Chapter 34
After the passage of many years Newland, now widowed, travels to Paris with his son. Newland declines an invitation from his son.
  • Year Published: 1920
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States of America
  • Readability:
    • Flesch–Kincaid Level: 12.0
  • Word Count: 110,365
  • Genre: Realism
  • Keywords: 20th century literature, american literature
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