The book that made me: The Age of Innocence

This month Lionel Shriver explains why Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence affected her


The book that made me: The Age of Innocence

‘This made a big impact on me, not only because it’s a wonderful book – one written in a distinctly classical tradition, while also feeling accessibly modern.

The prose isn’t fancy, but beautiful; clear, vivid, involving. Yet what really hit me over the head was that this was a work by a woman, yet as classy, as lasting, as considerable a contribution to that fabled “literary canon”, as books by Henry James, Thomas Hardy or William Faulkner.

I’m not proud of this, but before discovering Wharton, I probably suffered from a slight prejudice against books by my own sex. The revelation that a female writer could compete with the best authors of all time has inspired me ever since to try to give the boys a run for their money in print.’

‘The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047’ by Lionel Shriver (Borough Press, £16.99) is out now.

The Age of Innocence, Wordsworth, £3.99.

Enable referrer and click cookie to search for eefc48a8bf715c1b ad9bf81e74a9d264 [] 2.7.22