The Custom of the Country – ebook
Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel is a devastating critique of American upward mobility, told through the journey of Undine Spragg from fictional Midwestern Apex City to New York to Paris. Undine Spragg is one of the most ruthless characters in all of literature, as selfishly unscrupulous as she is fiercely beautiful. As Undine climbs the social ladder through a series of marriages and affairs, she shows little concern for who she has to step on to get anything and everything she desires. Wharton weaves an elaborate plot that renders a detailed depiction of upper class social behavior in the early twentieth century. By utilizing a character with inexorable greed in a novel of manners, she demonstrates some of the customs of a modern age and posits a surprising explanation for divorce and the social role of women, which still resonates for the modern reader today.