The bright spot in my day: having my book question answered on Michael Dirda's weekly book chat at the WaPo:
Edith Wharton: Hi Michael, I'm trying to read all of Edith Wharton's novels, and I've gotten through most of the usual suspects (Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth, Summer, Ethan Frome), but I am stuck on The Customs of the Country. I just really, really loathe the heroine, so much so that I can't get past it and enjoy the book itself. Have you read the book? Does it get better as it goes on? (I'm just past the wedding) Should I persevere?
Michael Dirda: I haven't read it, but I can this: If you want to read all of Wharton you'll have to persevere. Think of the pleasure you'll feel in just knowing you've read all her books. On the other hand, if you're not that married to completeness, I'd put it aside, go on to another book, and maybe come back to it later, if at all. I do believe in reading for pleasure--unless there are supervening reasons. (Is supervening the word I want? I believe my mind is going, like the body parts of M. Valdemar.)