Oh, Undine, Undine, Undine. I bet if you met me you would not like me at all. I would simply not rate. I have a feeling if I met you I might also not like you too much. But I must say you are a most intriguing character to read about. So many foibles, so much folly. You try, but you are so very misguided. At least upon first impression. I think sometimes the most interesting and thought provoking books are those that have unlikable or conflicted heroines and heroes. They certainly make you think, don't they?
So, Edith Wharton's Custom of the Country just grabbed me and wouldn't be ignored (maybe like Undine), so I picked it up on whim and I must say I am finding the story wholly engaging. I have not been reading many classics this year, and all of a sudden I am finding a story that is a little more substantial and possibly slightly challenging just what I need at the moment. No shifting of the night stand going on, just an addition to the pile.
Undine is very young, I think. She has these ideas of what it is to be uppercrust but they don't exactly match with what, thus far, she is experiencing in New York. She knows what she wants, or thinks she does anyway, and has pressured her parents into moving from their smaller town to NYC. Fifth Avenue is her goal. But she has only gotten so far as the Hotel Stentorian. Apparently people of a 'certain class' stay in hotels (unless they have the really ritzy Fifth Avenue property she aspires to). What do you think? Is she ultimately going to be disappointed? Shall we have a glimpse at Undine?
"Undine Spragg, at the word, swept round on the speaker with one of the quick turns that revealed her youthful flexibility. She was always doubling and twisting on herself, and every movement she made seemed to start at the nape of her neck, just below the lifted roll of reddish-gold hair, and flow without a break through her whole slim length to the tips of her fingers and the points of her slender restless feet."
"Only one fact disturbed her: there was a hint of too much fullness in the curves of her neck and in the spring of her hips. She was tall enough to carry off a little extra weight, but excessive slimness was the fashion, and she shuddered at the thought that she might someday deviate from the perpendicular."
Oh, there is going to be so much to think about with this book. So much to talk about, I hope. For now, though I am going to sit back and be a fly on the wall and watch how Undine navigates the upper classes of New York Society. Edith Wharton is a good guide to have in this world and my expectations are high indeed. (I know I won't be disappointed).
Maybe this is a sign that my reading whims and choices are swinging back to the classics. I hope so as I feel like I have neglected them far too much the past couple of years. So to get back into the mood--do share. What is your favorite classic? Do you have a recent one you were impressed by? An old standby you like to return to again and again? I have read Edith Wharton before and have always loved what I read. I'm excited to get back to her work.