The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
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The Age of Innocence

The Age of Innocence, for which Wharton won the Pulitzer Prize in 1920, is one of her most memorable novels.
At the heart of the story are three people whose entangled lives are deeply affected by the tyrannical and rigid requirements of high society. Newland Archer, a restrained young attorney, is engaged to the lovely May Welland but falls in love with May's beautiful and unconventional cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska. Despite his fear of a dull marriage to May, Archer goes through with the ceremony — persuaded by his own sense of honor, family, and societal pressures. He continues to see Ellen after the marriage, but his dreams of living a passionate life ultimately cease.
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Emigrate! As if a gentleman could abandon his own country!
And you'll sit beside me, and we'll look, not at visions, but at realities."
Though there was already talk of the erection, in remote metropolitan distances "above the Forties," of a new Opera House which should compete in costliness and splendour with those of the great European capitals, the world of fashion was still content to reassemble every winter in the shabby red and gold boxes of the sociable old Academy.
Only, I wonder—the thing one's so certain of in advance: can it ever make one's heart beat as wildly?"
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