Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton
Glimpses of the Moon was published in 1922, seventeen years after Wharton’s great success with House of Mirth. I decided to read this in conjunction with House of Mirth (both were rereads) because the stories share parallel themes with different outcomes.
Nick and Susy Lansing are on their honeymoon and in love, having decided to marry even though they both know it’s a bad match. Both are too poor to support the lush lifestyle they desire (and grew up with), so they make a deal: live in bliss off their rich friends for one year, and then after that both are free to leave, no questions asked, if a better opportunity comes along.
Like HoM, Glimpses deals with the question of what to do with the life you’re given – what is essential to be happy, to lead a life of fulfillment? This novel is sort of the “What if?” of House of Mirth. What if the main characters of that book decided to give it a chance? While I think that House of Mirth is the superior novel, I love reading these two books as a pair. Glimpses has more of a lighthearted, tragic comedy feel than HoM, and feels more escapist. The characters grapple with similar problems, but are able to connect – unlike Lily and Selden. Though it’s another sharp examination of society, wealth, morality, and how these all interconnect, Glimpses differs in that Wharton shows her characters mercy (that never happens ?)