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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

This is a little-known, unusual, and fascinating Wharton. She's more generally known for her books about New York and European high society, yet here she chooses a mill town for her setting and creates a love triangle among the poor, radical assistant manager of the mill, a high-minded nurse, and a

Not sure about this one, I think the length of the book could have been a lot shorter.
A fairly long tale revolving around a mill town where the workers are exploited and the rich worry about keeping rich. A young reformist works as the Assistant Manager and has an aim of improving the working and l

The Fruit of the Tree is a novel by Edith Wharton written in 1907. The novel tries to deal with issues such as euthanasia, the problems of labor and industrial conditions, and professions for women. When first published it received mixed reviews, and critics (I don't know who they are) complained of

"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!


Set in an eastern mill town Fruit of the Tree is another book about the struggles of workers and how the owners I.e. The upper classes choose to exploit the workers or reform management of the mill. There's an emotionally stunted young man who Wharton takes to task through the ministration of the mu

I am a big Edith Wharton fan. I can only think of one of her novels that I disliked more than this one. About 1/3 in I almost stopped reading it. It's not because of the way it's written. It's because of the characters and the plot. I absolutely loathe John Amherst, the main male character. At the v

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

A compassionate young nurse and a factory manager committed to improving conditions for the workers find themselves in sympathy with each other from their first meeting, though their unconventional convictions will be put the test by tragedy and fate.

The nurse is Justine Brent, a competent and beaut

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