The Importance of Being Earnest (by Oscar Wilde)

Oscar Wilde was a well-known classic playwright from the 19th century, famous for one novel, several plays, and a somewhat sleazy lifestyle.

'The Importance of Being Earnest' is perhaps his best-known play, one which I've seen on screen but don't think I had previously read - although I may have done so in my teenage years. I spotted it available free for the Kindle, and decided to download it. I'm not usually very keen on books in dramatic format, full of stage directions, but was surprised at how easy it was to read.

The story features upper-class society snobs, and is a satirical jab at the silliness of society at the end of the 19th century. In particular it's about two men who invent quite serious fictitious lives, in order to escape from their families for a while. This is complicated by two girls who fall in love with them (or claim to do so), but insist that they can only ever love men called Ernest...

I found myself smiling a few times at the satire, though irritated at other places by the trivialities of upper-class society. However, that's the point of it, really. As with most plays it's better to see it than to read it, so it's one of the few books where the film version is an improvement.

Still, it's not a long play, and I read it in just a couple of days finding it surprisingly interesting. I'd say it's well worth reading, at least once.

The link above is to a paperback edition of this play, but there are inexpensive and free e-book editions available too.

Review by copyright 2014 Sue's Book Reviews

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