The Valley of Decision - Edith Wharton (ANNOTATED) [Second Edition] [Full Version]

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  • 452 pages
  • The Valley of Decision - Edith Wharton (ANNOTATED) [Second Edition] [Full Version]
  • Edith Wharton
  • 28 February 2019

About the Author: Edith Wharton

Edith Newbold Jones was born into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase keeping up with the Joneses The youngest of three children, Edith spent her early years touring Europe with her parents and, upon the family s return to the United States, enjoyed a privileged childhood in New York and Newport, Rhode Island Edith s creativity and talent soon became obvious By the a


The Valley of Decision - Edith Wharton (ANNOTATED) [Second Edition] [Full Version] The Valley Of Decision, Is Set In Eighteenth Century Italy Here Wharton Pits Folks Inspired By The Antireligious Thoughts Of Rousseau And Voltaire Against The Orthodox Leaders Of The Day Soon Enough Wharton S Night Constant Theme Comes Through This, Like Most Other Violations Of Personal Convention, Will Come At A Terrible Cost.

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10 thoughts on “The Valley of Decision - Edith Wharton (ANNOTATED) [Second Edition] [Full Version]

  1. Moonlight Reader says:

    Who knew that Edith Wharton s first full length novel is a piece of historical fiction set in 18th century Italy It s honestly a bit of a slog, although Edith is just as brutal to her main character in this one as she is in her future, better works I ll probably post a longer review on my blog For now, I ll just say that I understand why this one has slipped into obscurity.

  2. Sara says:

    Dearest Edith,I am writing to tell you that I have now read your first full length novel, and I am thanking the muse Melpomene, that you turned from history to tragedy and found your voice Oh yes, I know, you already had an elegant style and a way with prose that foreshadowed things to come, but truly, I had no sense of who this Italian Duke was meant to be amid all the philosophy and high flown debates You would think that following a character from boyhood to manhood and seeing all his growing pains would build an attachment of some kind, and really it should, but I am not that easily attached, so it didn t I felt like I was inside Lily Bart s skin and I wept for her copiously, but nary a tear for this guy, not even a pang.I just wanted you to know that I have not changed my feelings for you one iota because of this rather rotten novel I still love you I get that everyone needs to have their growing pains, even the really great writers like you As far as I know, only Shakespeare never got it wrong, and there are probably people out there who would argue against that.Anyway, thanks, Edith, for all the superb writing you did and forgive me this rating, which in all honesty I just have to give this book I will tell anyone who will listen not to judge you by this, to just glide on over it and read something else you have written that will make their eyes water and their heads spin.Your forever friend,Sara

  3. Dave says:

    The Valley of Decision is Edith Wharton s first long novel, being published in 1902 after her two collections of shorter works, The Greater Inclination and Crucial Instances , and the novella The Touchstone It is an impressive work, and Wharton s writing is outstanding as usual The scope and detail are there, but the execution is not quite up to the level which she would later attain The story takes place in the later part of the 18th century Italy, and focuses on the life of Odo Valsecca, a man who rises to power over the course of the four books which make up the novel Odo has to deal with the powers in the form of the nobility, the church, the free thinking movement, and of course the peasants Wharton effectively details each of these forces, and creates interesting characters from each to form a novel of incredible richness and depth, but so much time is spent on explaining the period and politics that the development of the characters and the storyline suffer Book I is titled The Old Order and covers Odo s youth Here we learn about the impact which St Francis Assisi has on his early years, about the poverty in which he was raised in spite of his noble bloodline, and of course the impact his father s death has on his mother and of course on himself It is also during this period that Odo meets two friends he will have for the rest of his life, a hunchback which he knows as Brutus, though he later learns his real name is Carlo Gamba, and Vittorio Alfieri, a Count from Asti.Book II is titled The New Light and it picks up the story when Odo is a bit older He has become a young noble, and is learning the ways of the world He meets free thinkers, and in particular Professor Orazio Vivaldi and his daughter Fulvia for whom Odo falls in love Odo s naivet with regards to court intrigue and the spying which occurs nearly destroys the Professor and his daughter not just once, but twice Odo goes to live with the Duke of Pianura, the title for which he is in line and for which it is becoming and likely for him to inherit There he falls in with the free thinkers again, and once again the spies are on to him Thanks to the Duchess he manages to escape when de Crucis arrives having been commissioned by the Holy Office to look into the free thinkers Despite being on opposite sides of the free thinker issue, Odo comes to like de Crucis.Book III is titled The Choice , and during this period Odo is free to travel and learn from the free thinkers thanks to the protection that the Duchess has provided During this period he once again runs into Fulvia and learns of her father s passing Fulvia is in a convent, but not free to come and go He plots an escape with her, but time and again he fails to understand just how much others are able to learn about his planning With the aid of another sister though, they make their escape and Odo intends to travel with Fulvia into Switzerland Just before they make their escape, they are found by de Crucis who informs Odo that the Duke has died and that Odo is to be the next Duke Odo is willing to give it up, but Fulvia reminds him of his obligation to his people and refuses to let Odo accompany her any further.Book IV is titled The Reward and covers Odo s time as Duke of Pianura He tries to push the agenda of the free thinkers, pushed by his old friend Carlo Gamba and Fulvia Vivaldi, the woman that he loves But he has been forced to marry the Duchess and play all the political games to deal with the church and the nobles, and it has cost him much popularity Things come to a head around the constitution that Odo wants to give the people, but the other forces in society work to prevent that from happening.This is a long and complex story, filled with historical and social information about Italy in the late 18th century The explanations supporting the story ultimately detract from it overall, but it is still a remarkable piece of writing, and as Edith Wharton s first long novel it is definitely of interest.

  4. classic reverie says:

    I am in the minority in loving this book from the reviews listed here but this being her first long novel, I thought she did a wonderful job at this historical fiction story I am also in the minority of not having The Age of Innocence, as a favorite of mine but nonetheless, I gave it 5 stars In that story I found all the characters unlikable but it still prevailed as a great read The main character in Valley, Odo is an extremely likeable which makes me enjoy this because he has many admirable sides which makes his story interesting Having finished David Copperfield recently, this being a bildungsroman also but with characters of different class and paths Both looking to understand the world and themselves better The setting in Valley is Italy 18th century, the time for many governmental changes, philosophy and the increase of free thinkers all over in different countries, in Italy there is conflict of old ways and the Holy See This is not a light read but neither is it difficult but it is wanting of your whole mind in the arguments of the never ending questions of religion and free thinking, privileged and peasant and taking what is and changing what you can verses a Utopia that will never be reached Edith Wharton did not espouse or negate religion but looked at it thoughtfully I enjoyed this book for all the tangents, history given and the descriptions of the country and story of a young boy of nobility and the path that is ahead.

  5. Joanna says:

    There are wonderful passages and vivid descriptions, but if this is her first long novel, I m relieved she moved her settings closer to her own experience If this were the first novel I read by Wharton, I d probably never have made it to her greater works, e.g Age of Innocence Still worth reading.

  6. Monica says:

    While I love Wharton, this early novel of hers shows too many bones, too much of the nuts and bolts of writing, to be as enjoyable as her later works when she knew herself, her subjects and her characters deeply Set in Italy, this portrait of the entire life span of a last feudal ruler, Odo, in the midst of personal and national revolution shows that Wharton is a scholar and historian alongside being a skilled storyteller There are far too many places where the author addresses a modern audience, reflecting back on the issues of the time in Italy, instead of staying true to the story and allowing those issues to become inherent in the narrative The tunnel focus on the main character, while still remaining third person in narration, narrows the scope of the story so dramatically that these long stretches of commentary are quite jarring Like always, though, Wharton draws a landscape that feels so real when reading the words on the page Many times I was transported to an Italian Garden or Chapel in the midst of reading These moments reminded me that I was reading the work of an emerging master, albeit an emergence that happened over a century ago.

  7. Sarah says:

    Wow, well, this went from almost being a DNF to becoming probably my second favorite Wharton novel after The House of Mirth I was close to putting it down during Book 1, which, sure, brings 18th century Italy to life, but is frustratingly light on plot But I told myself I d power through to Book 2 and see if it got better, and I m glad I did I ended up getting uncommonly invested in the story I ll be thinking about this book for a long time.After the story picks up, it introduces elements such as a nobleman concerned about the social injustice faced by the people he may one day rule, a secret society that has to hide its pursuit of scientific knowledge from the Church, Illuminati rumors, an occult ritual, nuns who like to party I could go on, but I don t want to give too much away If the abovementioned elements pique your interest, give The Valley of Decision a whirl Just know that it gets better after Book 1.

  8. Lucy says:

    The author clearly did a huge amount of research into life in the Italy of the time and was determined to cram it all into this novel There may be a good story in here trying to get out, but it s swamped by awkward travel writing, interminable passages of discussion between characters so ill drawn I never did sort out one from another, and a quite inexplicable section of an English farmer s diary It s as if the author was trying out all sorts of styles of writing and as we know she ended up as one of the best novelists of her or any other day This is one for Wharton completists only.

  9. Carolyn says:

    Kind of painful, set in Italy

  10. James F says:

    historical novel, set in the Piedmont in the second half of the eighteenth century This is Wharton s first full length novel, but after reading her earlier stories I was surprised at how poorly written it is Not the actual writing her use of words is very sophisticated, of course but the larger aspects The first half is reasonably interesting, although there is too much description which is not well integrated into the action, but then the novel turns into a travelogue for over a hundred pages, with the plot and for the most part, even the protagonist vanishing under long descriptions of almost every important city in Italy When the plot finally resumes, it is driven entirely by improbable coincidences, like an early romantic novel by Dickens or Hugo, or even a parody of their style we get speeches in the author s language rather than natural dialogue appropriate to the characters in the end, the protagonist undergoes an inadequately motivated reversal of character, and the novel ends as a political pamphlet with a diatribe against the French Revolution It was indicative that my 1902 copy, bought from a library book sale, which from its condition had obviously been taken out many times, still had uncut pages near the end, showing that none of the borrowers had ever finished it.