The Reef by Edith Wharton
Edith Wharton does it again with this biting novel of love, deception, and social mores.
Synopsis: Two seemingly happy couples join in France to announce their engagements. But things begin to unravel as secret pasts come to light. What are the effects of a casual sexual betrayal in an era far more dignified and couth than our own?
Basically this book takes the prototypical “you cheated on me!”/”I thought we were broken up!” situation and turns it on its head. Beautifully written (as all of Wharton’s works), perfectly timed, and hauntingly wise, this story will be sure to stay with me for a long time.
I was ruminating on the title as I considered my review, slightly bemused because in no way is this book about ocean life, beaches, or the sea. In fact, the word “reef” never even appears. And then, low and behold, this morning I sat down to watch an episode of Magic School Bus with my son and what was the episode about?? Coral reefs! ???? A reef is a ragged ridge of rock in a shallow part of the ocean, just beneath the surface. It can’t be seen from above, and it generally houses its own secret ecosystem of fish and ocean life.
Um…..How genius is Edith Wharton??? The main character, George Darrow, has this horrible secret he’s hiding from the love of his life, one that is inwardly destroying him and churning just beneath the surface of their lives together. I don’t want to give anything away by saying too much, so I’ll just leave it at this: go read this masterpiece of a novel. Be mind blown.