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The Fruit of the Tree

Edith Wharton

Book Overview: 

this novel about the lives of a wealthy mill owner, her socially progressive husband and friends caused a stir due to its treatment of drug abuse, mercy killing, divorce and second marriages.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .With the older men, the attractions of the[p 127] Eldorado, and kindred inducements, often worked against him; but among the younger hands, and especially the boys, he had gained a personal ascendency that it was bitter to relinquish.

It was the severing of this tie that cost him most pain in the final days at Westmore; and after he had done what he could to console his mother, and to put himself in the way of getting work elsewhere, he tried to see what might be saved out of the ruins of the little polity he had built up. He hoped his influence might at least persist in the form of an awakened instinct of fellowship; and he gave every spare hour to strengthening the links he had tried to form. The boys, at any rate, would be honestly sorry to have him go: not, indeed, from the profounder reasons that affected him, but because he had not only stood persistently between the overseers and themselves, but had recognized their right to fun after work-hours as wel. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Ah, Justine.

On Litsy we were comparing Wharton to Willa Cather, because the same group read Cather previously. They are such different writers. Wharton was born into the New York City leisure class, whereas Willa Cather grew up in Nebraska, was educated in Lincoln before coming to New York City to

"Human life is sacred," he said sententiously.
"Ah, that must have been decreed by someone who had never suffered!" Justine exclaimed.
Mr. Tredegar smiled compassionately: he evidently knew how to make allowances for the fact that she was overwrought by the sight of her friend's suffering: "Society

This is definitely NOT a typical Edith Wharton novel. Instead of the foibles of the aristocracy of New York Cit, we have a book that is part a muckraking polemic on the evils of manufacturing and part lurid love story laced with adultery, drug addiction and euthanasia. Quite the topics for 1907!


This was my first real Wharton (besides Ethan Frome and Bunner Sisters, two relatively short works). Gotta say I was impressed. It's so nice to follow early Woolf (Night & Day) with a minor Wharton. They work in different, almost oppositional, ways.

Woolf knits these complex inner thoughts that hit t

This may be nearly one of the last Edith Wharton novels that I had not yet read. This was, all in all, a fascinating novel too. It is much more of a 'social conditions' novel than many that Wharton has written; as it describes the working conditions in the clothing mills in New England in the late-1

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