The Age of Innocence is, without a doubt, one of the greatest novels of the 20th century by a gifted American writer, Edith Wharton. It's worth mentioning that the book got the Pulitzer award back in 1921 and that made the author the first woman in history to win the award. The story of The Age of Innocence is set in NY in the 1870s and examines the lives, the hopes and the dreams of the upper-class society of the great city.
By the way, despite popular belief, Edith wrote this novel in her 50s when she was already a world-esteemed writer with a line-up of publishers waiting to get the rights to her new stories. Therefore, this is the work of a grown-up, successful woman who just wanted to create a brilliant novel that will be cherished by the generations to come. The critics are calling it a softer version of her previous works that focused on the harsh realities of the early days of America.
Given the fact that the book is set in the 19th century, it represents everything the country was about back when Wharton was a little girl. The author even said that the old, warm and cozy United States that she knew were gone by the time she grew up. And her grief over losing the old ways and the struggles to come in turns with the new ones are very well present in The Age of Innocence.
The readers and the critics call it a fundamental story, a generation-defining novel that depicts the tiniest details of the upper-class New Yorkers. Wharton spent some time in Europe back when WW1 was raging and that allowed her to get a unique perspective on the whole world and the changes that were imminent. At the end of the day, The Age of Innocence is a must-have for all the fans of classic American literature that focuses on the struggles of a single person and a whole nation.