I loved this novel from its opening sentence where Lawrence Selden runs into his friend Lily Bart at Grand Central Station and notices that her bloom is slightly diminished after 'eleven years of late hours and indefatigable dancing.'
At twenty-nine, Lily Bart, a poor girl whose beauty enables her to move in the best American society, is aware of the pressing need to marry a rich man because time is passing and this is echoed in the 'glitter of the American autumn' of the first chapters.
On a deeper level, Lily knows she is better than that and her friendship with Lawrence Selden a young lawyer of integrity who maintains a certain aloofness from the vicissitudes of fashionable society often verges on love. But Lily has a self-destructive streak and as her debts mount and her reputation suffers she finds that society rejects her.
Despite - or perhaps because of - her failings I adored Lily Bart. I now want to read everything Edith Wharton has written.