22 August 2012

Edith Wharton - stories

My summer reading week(s) recently included two stunning texts by Edith Wharton. She's best known for her novels The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence, but she was also a prolific writer of short stories. The first is a murder mystery which is loosely based on the notorious 1892 Lizzie Borden case. Confession explores a puzzling set of circumstances seen through the eyes of a decent but slightly naive narrator who meets a beautiful but enigmatic woman in a Swiss hotel and pursues her to Italy. The other tale, Roman Fever, is her best known and most frequently anthologised. It's a witty and subtle study in manners as two middle-aged American women sit overlooking Rome after lunch, reminiscing about their younger days. One of the ladies comes in for a beautifully delivered shock.

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