The Age of Innocence centres on an upper-class couple's impending marriage, and the introduction of a scandalous woman whose presence threatens their happiness. Though the novel questions the assumptions and morals of 1870s New York society, it never devolves into an outright condemnation of the institution.
The novel is lauded for its accurate portrayal of how the 19th-century East Coast American upper class lived, and this, combined with the social tragedy, earned Wharton a Pulitzer Prize-the first Pulitzer awarded to a woman.
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