Is Lily Bart a victim of circumstance or an agent of her own destruction? Edith Wharton’s acutely observed novel poses this question as it follows Lily’s tragic path through the country houses, card tables and drawing rooms of New York’s beau monde at the turn of the 20th century. Impoverished but well-born, Lily realizes a secure future depends on her acquiring a wealthy husband. Her desire for a comfortable life means that she will not marry for love without money, but her resistance to the rules of the social elite endangers her many marriage proposals and leads to a dramatic downward spiral into debt and dishonor. More a tale of social exclusion than of failed love, „The House of Mirth” reveals Wharton’s compelling gifts as a storyteller and her clear-eyed observations of the savagery beneath the well-bred surface of high society.