September 23, 2006
The Mother's Recompense
The Mother's Recompense by Edith Wharton
Quit on 9/7/06
Opening on the French Riviera among a motley community of American expatriates, The Mother's Recompense tells the story of Kate Clephane and her reluctant return to New York society after being exiled years before for abandoning her husband and infant daughter.
Oddly enough, Kate has been summoned back by that same daughter, Anne, now fully grown and intent on marrying Chris Fenno, a war hero, dilettante, and social opportunist. Chris's questionable intentions toward her daughter are, however, the least of Kate's worries since she was once, and still is, deeply in love with him. Kate's moral quandary and the ensuing drama evoke comparison with Oedipus and Hamlet and lead to an ending that startled the mores of the day.
I've enjoyed many of Edith Wharton's books, so I'm not going to feel guilty about giving up on this one in particular. The purpose for my Classics Challenge was to motivate myself to read more of my own books in an attempt to whittle away at my TBR shelves. I also wanted to read some of the more well-known works of literature that I somehow missed during high school and college. The Mother's Recompense falls in the first category, as I've managed to acquire many of Wharton's books over the years. Unfortunately, this book fails to entertain or educate and I readily dismissed it after 50 pages. The storyline is dull and unappealing and not worth my time. On the positive side, I'm glad it wasn't my first attempt at reading Wharton. Had it been, I doubt I would've tried anything else by her. Certainly not right away.