This best selling classic was written in 1905 and is a great portrait of how women perceived their financial role in turn of the century American society.
Since we are the Abundance and Wealth site, we’ll be reading and discussing The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton from the financial aspect of women, money and the role it played in their lives. Let’s have some fun with this!
America was coming into the consumer age in the early 1900’s – it was the dawn of opulence, excess spending and the obvious and glaring differences between men, women and money.
The House of Mirth is an eye-opening account of how women could only be observers of the American Dream. They had to be content with watching the men achieve financial independence all the while knowing it was out of reach for themselves. This book is a glaring reminder that the only way most women could achieve financial security, was to marry it.
Personally, I’ve always believed that many of the beliefs and attitudes we women have about money, wealth and prosperity must be somehow locked in our DNA. Money attitudes are passed on to us from generation to generation. This book, to me, reinforces this. Our great, great grandmothers were brought up in this turn-of-the-century era. Their beliefs, observations and values have been passed to us consciously and unconsciously. Reading this book, I kept saying to myself, “No wonder so many of us struggle with achieving and enjoying financial independence.”
The House of Mirth is the story of Lily Bart and her struggle for financial independence. From birth her role had been set and no matter how much she wanted to change it, her inner programming and her place in society wouldn’t allow it. Lily believes in financial success, wants financial success and yet, she cannot achieve it the same way as the men within her social circle are able to. Men, she realized, have a financial freedom women were not allowed to achieve. The question becomes, did Lily ever make peace with this financial inequity?
This book is a powerful look at the traditional role of women in the early 1900’s. Beauty, wit and charm were the acceptable methods by which women could achieve financial success.
The House of Mirth is a great comparison of how men and women were allowed to learn, grow and evolve financially. Men had the power and women paid homage to that power.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and couldn’t believe it was written over 100 years ago. It was such an “aha” and insight into why many of the gender based beliefs and values women have today, are “throw backs” to the early 20th century.
I’ll be waiting to hear if you enjoyed this book as much as I did. We’ll begin discussing The House of Mirth March 1, 2008 on the Abundance and Wealth forum. Here's the link to forum discussion: Forum Book Discussion Link
You can find this classic in your library, local bookstore, used bookstore or at Amazon.com
I know you’ll also want to check out other articles on the Abundance and Wealth site – there are a couple of links below.