The Custom of the Country & Undine Spragg

Never have I experienced such deep and distressing emotion from a novel's character as I did from Undine Spragg in The Custom of the Country.

And I was not alone in that.

Let's talk about Undine: Did you love her, or hate her?

Here's what a few of our members thought...

"One of the ladies in my neighborhood book club asked me simply, "Why do you think Edith Wharton wrote her the way she did?" and I admit that I have been obsessively thinking about this since early July. WHY?!?! The only thing I can think of for writing such an abysmal character is that she is a conglomeration of all of the traits she saw in the females around her when she herself was in that same stage in life. I cannot fathom that any one person could be the muse for such a despicable character. She had to be the worst character traits of everyone she knew rolled into one and the reason she did this was to show how utterly futile and broken the system was on both sides of the equation (male & female)."

"Thank goodness I am not alone. I don't recall any recent novels that have had me feeling such hate for a character. I think Undine must be a combination of narcissistic and sociopathic behaviors EW observed in a variety of different people and situations of the time."

"Edith Wharton created the perfect villain, the personification of all she loathed about society in NY during her day and age. It worked then. And it's working now."

“Undine is like a hangnail under my skin."