An excellent book. I can see that Edith Wharton and I will be spending a lot more time together.
The heroine of the story, Undine Spragg, is a spoiled, shallow, self-centered, conniving social climber. She is supremely unsympathetic, equally as fascinating as she is repellent. Her goal is to position herself within privileged society and she pursues this end with ruthless determination. But as the saying goes, you should be careful what you wish for. Undine finds that marrying into "the right" family or even having access to fabulous sums of money doesn’t bring satisfaction. Her restless, acquisitive nature always drives her to seek more and better.She had everything she wanted, but she still felt, at times, that there were other things she might want if she knew about them.The Custom of the Country
is a pointed commentary on the role of women and the acceptable social norms of the time. Wharton shows that Undine is both a product of the prevailing culture and a victim of it. In the context of a society that offers women few choices and values the creation of wealth over all else, her behavior becomes understandable and even pitiable.