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Summary

Wharton’s antiwar masterpiece probes the devastation of World War I on the home front.

Inspired by a young man Edith Wharton met during her war relief work in France, A Son at the Front opens in Paris on July 30, 1914, as Europe totters on the brink of war. Expatriate American painter John Campton - whose only son, George, having been born in Paris, must report for duty in the French army - struggles to keep his son away from the front while grappling with the moral implications of his actions. 

Interweaving her own experiences of the Great War with themes of parental and filial love, art, and self-sacrifice, national loyalties and class privilege, A Son at the Front is a poignant meditation on art and possession, fidelity and responsibility in which Wharton tells an intimate and captivating story of war behind the lines.

Public Domain (P)2019 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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Unusual story

I really enjoyed this book such interesting characters very thought provoking and excellently narrated

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  • yep
  • 21-03-21

Moving, psychologically astute, beautiful writing

I thought this was even better than The House of Mirth.

Not for people who are looking for a super plot driven “page turner” book, definitely for literature lovers who dig depth, beauty, well-drawn characters.

History. Parental love. Duty. Life and death.
Human behavior. Love and loss. Class and changing social mores. War. Art and meaning. Authenticity. Etc.

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  • Ivy
  • 29-04-22

A huge miss for the brilliant Wharton

Edith Wharton was an incandescent talent, easily as great as Hemingway, Morrison, and Fitzgerald. After having read, and re-read, what I thought were all of her marvelous novels, I was delighted to discover this one, which I'd never heard of. Alas, it was a major disappointment, and a surprising one. Wharton is normally so surefooted when crafting stories and characters, but I could not find anything engaging in it. There is a sameness to the dialogue of each of her characters, all of whom seem to start their sentences with "Oh!" The central character's struggle with his envy of his son's beloved stepfather becomes tiresome very quickly. The arc of the story is predictable and dull, and is so uneventful that it's more of a flat line than an arc. While I am normally deeply absorbed in her novels, in this one I found myself completely disinterested in the inner worlds of these people, and so little happens in this book that you need connection to the characters to sustain you as a reader. It didn't feel like a Wharton novel in any way. I still feel surprised when I see her name as the author.

Richard Poe may be a wonderful narrator for other subjects, but this was not a good fit for him. The voices he gives to the women are consistently overwrought and tremulous, which becomes annoying, and seems to diverge from the author's intentions. He gives the men big, bombastic voices, or little pipsqueak voices. It just doesn't work.

By all means, read Wharton. Just not this one.