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The House of Mirth book cover
THE HOUSE OF MIRTH was published in book form in 1905 after appearing serially in Scribner's Magazine earlier that year.

THE HOUSE OF MIRTH
By Edith Wharton

Early in Book I of the novel, Lily Bart describes an evening bridge-playing scene at Bellomont, the estate of Lily's wealthy friends, the Trenors.

The hall was arcaded, with a gallery supported on columns of pale yellow marble. Tall clumps of flowering plants were grouped against a background of dark foliage in the angles of the walls. On the crimson carpet a deer-hound and two or three spaniels dozed luxuriously before the fire, and the light from the great central lantern overhead shed a brightness on the women's hair and struck sparks from their jewels as they moved.

There were moments when such scenes delighted Lily, when they gratified her sense of beauty and her craving for the external finish of life; there were others when they gave a sharper edge to the meagreness of her own opportunities. This was one of the moments when the sense of contrast was uppermost, and she turned away impatiently as Mrs. George Dorset, glittering in serpentine spangles, drew Percy Gryce in her wake to a confidential nook beneath the gallery.

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NOVEL REFLECTION experts discuss why writing was important to Wharton. more
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Postcard from Edith Wharton to Henry James
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In her autobiography, Wharton describes how she arrived at THE HOUSE OF MIRTH's main character, Lily Bart. more
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The American Novel