In this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Edith Wharton has written the story of an affable conformist whose marriage of convenience cannot extinguish his passion for another woman… and whose moral limitations make both women seem unreal to him. Handsome, affluent, with great promise as a lawyer, Newland Archer’s interest in his cold, beautiful, and conventional wife gradually flags. His attraction to Countess Ellen Olenska–bizarre and challenging, separated from her husband–becomes the single threat to his secure position in high society, and, at the same time, leads him to question the values of that society.
Said to be “the finest of her novels … painted with a richness of colour and detail that delights the imagination…”
The first American novel to provide a devastatingly accurate portrait of New York’s aristocracy, it is the story of the beautiful and beguiling Lily Bart, and her ill-fated attempt to rise to the heights of a heartless society in which, ultimately, she has no part. From the staid conventionality of Old New York to the forced conviviality of the French Riviera, from the drawing room of Gus Trenor’s Bellomont to the dreary resort of a downtown boardinghouse, a brilliantly satiric yet sensitive exploration of manners and morality.
When it was published in 1905, it became a literary sensation and quickly established Edith Wharton as the most important American woman of letters in the twentieth century.