Monday, June 30, 2008


My knowledge of Edith Wharton’s work has been, sadly, just limited to movie productions of her novels, but thanks to the Slaves of Golconda I finally read one of her novels. This month we are discussing The Glimpses of the Moon so if you’ve read it or just want to read more about it, please check out the blog posts at the Slaves blog or head over to the MetaxuCafe Forums.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. From what I’ve read online, Edith Wharton was known for combining her insider’s view of America’s privileged classes with a brilliant, natural wit to write humorous and incisive novels and short stories (thanks to Wikipedia). I think that perfectly describes Glimpses of the Moon.

In Glimpses of the Moon Susy Branch and Nick Lansing make a pact to be able to take advantage of their friends’ generosity towards newlyweds. You see, both have friends and connections with the wealthy set but they themselves don’t have the funds to support the lifestyle they enjoy. So, they marry and receive generous wedding gifts in the forms of guest houses, dinners, trips and other privileges. Susy and Nick enjoy each others company and their friends seem so happy to help them out that it seems it is a just exchange.

It seems so good in fact, that Susy thinks they should extend their marriage even longer to keep enjoying the good life.

“But at the present moment her animosity was diminished not only by the softening effect of love but by the fact that she had got out of those very people more–yes, ever so much more–than she and Nick, in their hours of most reckless planning, had ever dared to hope for. “After all, we owe them this!” she mused. Her husband, lost in the drowsy beatitude of the hour, had not repeated his question; but she was still on the trail of the thought he had started. A year–yes, she was sure now that with a little management they could have a whole year of it! “It” was their marriage, their being together, and away from bores and bothers, in a comradeship of which both of them had long ago guessed the immediate pleasure, but she at least had never imagined the deeper harmony.”

Of course, the plan won’t be as easy as that and soon the two will be wondering what just happened to their relationship. Nick and Susy have different perspectives on what is right and wrong but they never seem to talk and so there are just many misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Will the two end up seeking a divorce? Will they resolve their differences or go their separate ways and will they forever be chasing after the good life? Well, you’ll have to read this slim novel to find out.

For me Susy was an especially interesting character. I think she was genuine and did the things she did not out of malice but because it just seemed like that was the way for her to survive. She’ll have learned a lot of lessons the hard way by the end of the novel. Nick, on the other hand, seems to think of himself as the one with a moral compass yet I don’t believe he was any better than Susy. As a matter of fact, I blamed him for a lot of Susy’s heartache.

This novel is a wonderful glimpse of life in a different era. I found it amazing really that Nick and Susy could pull off a year-long honeymoon thanks to their friends. And, overall it made me think of how people can muck up relationships all because there is a lack of communication.

A wonderful read and now I’m very excited because I still have so many Wharton books yet to discover.

Cross-posted at Bookgirl's Nightstand


Anonymous said...

Nick and Susy's inability to communicate was infuriating, wasn't it? I kept wanting to yell at them, "talk to each other!"

Rebecca H. said...

I agree with both of you that Nick and Susy just needed to talk -- and yet talking can be so hard, can't it? I can see how the miscommunications and misunderstandings could happen.