The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
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February 18, 2012

On the boat to Venice

Marrying Wheater — Zinnia Lacrosse had married Cliffe Wheater? But then —but then — who on earth was Chipstone’s mother? Boyne felt like crying out: ‘Don’t pile up any more puzzles! Give me time — give me time!’ but his neighbor was now so far launched in the way of avowal that she went on, hardly heeding him more than if his face had been the narrow grating through which she was pouring her woes: ‘It’s inconceivable, but it’s so. Mr. Wheater married Zinnia Lacrosse. And Zinnie is their child. The truth is, he wasn’t altogether to blame. I’ve always stood up for Mr. Wheater. What with his feeling so low after Mrs. Wheater left him, and his wanting another boy so dreadfully … with all those millions to inherit…’
      But Boyne held up a drowning hand. Mrs. Wheater had left Wheater? But when — but how — but why? He implored the merciless narrator to tell him one thing at a time — only one; all these sudden appearances of new people and new children were so perplexing to a man who’d lived for years and years in the wilderness …
      ‘The wilderness? The real wilderness is the world we live in; packing up our tents every few weeks for another move … And the marriages just like tents — folded up and thrown away when you’re done with them.’ But she saw, at least, that to gain his sympathy she must have his understanding, and after another cautious glance up and down the deck she settled down to elucidate the mystery and fill in the gaps. Of course, she began, Judith having told her that he — Mr. Boyne was the name? Thanks. Hers was Miss Scope, Horatia Scope (she knew the children called her ‘Horror Scope’ behind her back but she didn’t mind) — well, Judith having told her that Mr. Boyne was a friend of her parents, Miss Scope had inferred that he had kept up with the successive episodes of the couple’s agitated history; but now that she saw he didn’t know, she would try to make it clear to him — if one could use the word in speaking of such a muddled business. It took a great deal of explaining — as he would see — but if any one could enlighten him she could, for she’d come to the Wheaters’ as Judith’s governess before Bianca and Terry were born: before the first, no, the second serious quarrel, she added, as if saying: ‘Before the Hittite invasion.’

from The Children, by Edith Wharton (1928)

My reading this month has been haphazard and fleeting, but since I didn't want to miss going to Venice in February, and it's my year with Edith, I pulled this book off my shelves.  It doesn't hurt that it promises to be funny.:)


Bellezza said...

Have not read one single work of Edith Wharton's in my life. How embarrassing is that?! Thanks for the introduction to this book!

GirlsWannaRead said...

Just finished reading this and posted on it yesterday ( I absolutely loved it! You must read it soon. ~Frances

JoAnn said...

Enjoy! I thought I had a copy of this combined with Ethan Frome and Summer, but turns out it is The Bunner Sisters.

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