I was pondering this question this morning after reading for half an hour or so. I’m nearly at the end of a book by Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country. I’m reading it because one of Sophie Duffy’s #100WomenNovelists focused on her and her book Summer. I tried to get that from Bridport library but it wasn’t in stock. They did have The Custom of the Country, so I took that instead and I ordered Summer from Amazon and it’s here but sitting on the bookshelf yet to be opened.
The Custom of the Country is a wonderful piece of literature, beautiful words, interesting characters and a story long in its unfolding. However, the heroine Undine Spragg is an annoying specimen of an early 20th Century American, social-climbing, empty-headed, spoilt brat! Her husband is weak and he takes on the same attitude that her father had previously, allowing her to ‘spend, spend, spend’ for fear she might have a fit of the vapours and take to her bed for weeks on end. We are not supposed to like her I’m sure, but I detest her to the point where I want to smack her good and hard. It’s been a long read for me and I’ve tried hard not to skip pages, but I have found it somewhat unsatisfying that she hasn’t yet had her comeuppance, although the third husband, I think will provide this. I hope so anyway.
I was cross this morning with the fact that her second husband shoots himself because he can’t come up with enough money to ‘buy’ their son. A child she hasn’t bothered with for a few years and does not care for at all. She knows that she can win him in the courts without a problem and sees it as a way to fill her rather empty bank account. In the end of course, she gets the son, and by chance ends up getting a portion of the money left to him by his father. It’s a long story but the ex-husband gambled on the stock market and the money didn’t come through in the desired time, it did however, come to fruition some time after his death. Poor man. Undine’s status, meanwhile, goes from being a divorcee to a widow which is far more appealing to her ‘Paris Set’. She always comes out on top…until now I suspect/hope.
I closed the book this morning and found myself feeling fed up and in a grumpy mood. All because Undine Spragg is such an unpleasant character. I’ve only a few pages left to read…let’s hope it ends in a way which be satifying and put me in a great mood for the rest of the week. I’ll let you know.
How does reading affect your mood?