The Age of Innocence is a 1920 Edith Wharton novel. In the public domain, it can be read online. It has been adapted for film in 1924, in 1934, and in 1993. I haven't seen any of the movies. I honestly thought I had read this, but it didn't take me but a page to realize I hadn't.
I had forgotten how wonderful Wharton's writing is, and I will be looking to buy whatever the local stores have in stock. She paints a perfect picture of life in early 20th century high society New York during the time my mother was growing up in working class Memphis. A fascinating contrast. The scenes are perfectly set, but the characters are well-drawn, too, and interesting in their own right. Multiple characters are so well-described that there's never a danger of confusion. I felt myself truly drawn in, and I cared about them even in their least sympathetic moments.
from the dust jacket:
As the scion of one of New York's leading families, Newland Archer has been born into a life of sumptious privilege and strict duty. A sensitive, intelligent young man, he still respects the rigid social code by which his class lives; and as he contemplates his forthcoming marriage to the striking and equally well-born May Welland, he gives thanks that she is "one of his own kind." But the arrival of the Countess Olenska, a free spirit who breathes clouds of European sophistication, makes him question the path on which his upbringing as set him. As his fascination with her grows, he discovers just how hard it is to escape the bounds of the society which has shaped him. Edith Wharton's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is at once a poignant story of frustrated love and an extraordinarily vivid, delightfully satirical record of a vanished world.Edith Wharton's home is now a museum. There is a biographical introduction of Wharton and an overview of the house's history at youtube:
and a short virtual tour of the home: