This 12th novel by author Edith Wharton awarded her the Pulitzer Prize as well as being the first female to receive the honor.
Set in 1870's New York, this story revolves around the wealthy and elite society. The main character is Newland Archer, a gentleman and successful attorney, his virtue is challenged. Engaged to lovely May Welland, he knows he has landed a most ideal and perfect match until something, or rather someone better comes along.
Enter the beautiful Countess Ellen Olenska, cousin to May Welland, just arrived from Europe after leaving her husband. The now independent and unconventional Countess puts everyone on edge and is the topic of current gossip. Keeping undesirable company in addition to the unresolved business of whether or not she will divorce her husband, her family worries their name will be associated with scandal.
Edith Wharton grew up among the wealthy privileged in New York society and gives an excellent account as to life in that era.