This is the story of a woman who desperately wants to find her place in New York City's high society. She is beautiful but has little money. She has many opportunities to marry, but she manages to sabotage every chance. She is her own worst enemy. She has just enough scruples to prevent a vicious climb to the top. However, she makes tiny missteps that eventually lead to a rapid downfall. This book shows the folly of raising a child to be decorative. Lily's only talent is knowing how to use her beauty to be successful. When that fails, she has no skill to support herself. This is a very depressing book and very, very sad. I cried through the last 20 pages, wanting Lily to not give up, to stand up and fight.This is the first book I have read by Edith Wharton and I am eager to read more.