Xingu by Edith Wharton

XinguPortadaReading a classic, which I haven’t done in a while, and having it be a rather short story was refreshing. The fact that it’s short is not the only thing I liked about this short story, I liked that it was funny and made me laugh!

The story is about six pompous ladies who are in a book club and are about to have a book club meeting where they have invited the author of a book they are going to discuss. Neither of them have read the book, “The Wings of Death”, yet they pretend that they have.  The ladies who strive after culture and knowledge, especially in literature, are not very fond of Mrs Roby who is their newest member. In fact, these women tend to be your typical judgy females (like judging Mrs Ballinger’s home who is supposed to be used for this particular meeting).

Mrs Roby however makes no secret about the fact that she hasn’t read the book and during the discussion she brings up Xingu.  All the ladies pretend to know what she was referring to and start talking along.  She later excuses herself from the book club meeting to go play bingo. Needless to say this leaves the other ladies gasping (not that it happened, but I assume they did silently), because why on earth would this woman declare she is leaving to go play bingo!? “Yes, she definitely don’t belong in this book club” is probably the thought that went through their heads. When they find out Xingu is in fact a river in Brazil, they are convinced that Mrs Roby were trying to make fools of them. Well she kind of did! It was a nice, short satire and indeed left me giggling.

If you enjoy Edith Wharton’s work, I’m pretty sure you would love this one! Have you read this? What’s your favourite work from this author?

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  • Ali

    I’ve read a number of Edith Wharton’s novels, but haven’t seen this short story. Thanks for the post, I’m going to go find the story now.


    • This is a really short story and I think you will enjoy the satire 🙂

  • Wonderful review! The only Wharton book I have read is The Age of Innocence and I was not a fan….. At all!

    • I wasn’t a fan of Age of Innocence either, but Xingu sounds delightful!

      • Hope you read it, Leah. It’s quite short. I will have to read The Age of Innocence…

    • Thanks Jennifer! I must still read The Age of Innocence, I think it’s on my list. Will let you know if I’m a fan or not 🙂

  • This one is definitely on my list to read in 2014 (I hope). I heard about this one from Rebecca, and it sounds like the perfect book for a quick classics fix.

    • Definitely good for a quick classics fix. I really like Edith Wharton’s work – I think out of the 5 I’ve read, I only disliked one… Enjoy it!

  • stacyoverman

    I enjoy Edith Wharton and her special sort of satire. This sounds like some of the book club meetings I’ve attended! I’m usually the one that must excuse myself…usually to run to Wal-Mart! 😉

    • Haha! Glad to know that you’re “that one” 🙂

  • That is actually the title by

  • This one sounds so awesome, literally mocking all those bookish snobs out there, haha. I’ll try to pick it up soon!

    • Lol, yes! Quick read and it’s free on amazon, so you should.

  • I haven’t read this one but have read the classic Age of Innocence. Satirically, she gives a window into a world and an age so foreign to me.

    • Two other people have mentioned The Age of Innocence… I’m curious now. Will have to read it! I like Wharton’s novellas and the way she writes

  • I heard Xingu read on an NPR Selected Shorts broadcast and enjoyed it immensely. I recently came across a reference to the river Xingu and started laughing as I was reminded of the story.

    • Were you alone? If you were, people would probably wonder why you are laughing! 🙂

  • Great review, Mel. I thought this novella/short story was hilariously satirical. It reminded me of high school or mean girls. It was just awesome!

    • Exactly! Grown up mean girls 🙂

  • I love The House of Mirth. I enjoyed reading your review, and I haven’t read this story yet. 🙂

    • The House of Mirth is on my TBR list! I hope you pick this one up 🙂

  • I’ve read several Wharton novels but not this one. It sounds delightful, I love it when she gets cheeky about rich people. I’m going to download this right now!

    • Enjoy! Very cheeky indeed, I enjoyed it!

  • The only thing I’ve read of Whatton’s is the classic Ethan Frome. I even got my husband to read it somehow (probably cause it was short). It’s kinda depressing though…and I haven’t been able to get my husband to read a classic anything since! Lol

    • I have read Ethan Frome too, but I never reviewed it! Thank you for the reminder! I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed her other novellas. Did you?

  • I’ve never heard of this title from Edith Wharton! Definitely am going to have to check it out now, thanks for sharing this with us 🙂 I’ve slowly been getting around to her books; my favourite from her is still The House of Mirth (all the feels ;_;) 🙂

    • I need to read The House of Mirth still! (I do have it…) I hope you enjoy this short (and funny) novella!

  • Isi

    I have it on my kindle too! I saw Rebecca’s review time ago and I thought I would like it, and now with yours, I’m pretty sure 😉
    By the way, I have to tell you as I did with Rebecca: you have chosen the Spanish edition for the picture, which has beautiful illustrations by an artist I like very much. In fact, this publishing house is publishing some classics with illustrations, and I think they are doing a great job because with those beautiful pictures, you are less afraid of classics 😉

    • I didn’t know that 🙂 Thanks for telling me, I specifically chose this cover for the blog post picture, because I liked it the most out of all the covers. Yeah most of Wharton’s novellas is free on Amazon, so stock up and read them 🙂

  • I’ve already commented, but wanted to add. . . Thanks for linking up to the Spread the Love Linky Party – this was also pinned & tweeted!

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  • Brona

    This sounds delightful!
    I’ll definitely look out for this one.

    I’m hosting a Wharton readalong in May if you have any more Whartons on your TBR pile 🙂

    • Yes I’ve read a few and there’s about 2 I still want to read

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