Edith Wharton was known initially for her short stories and her much admired novel Ethan Frome from the last years of her unhappy marriage in 1911. She is most remembered now for The Age of Innocence that was published in 1920. Many of her works are concerned with failed romance and disappointed marriage (see also The Reef (1912)) and The Age of Innocence is no exception. Newland Archer, the main character of the story is a lawyer living in New York who is in love with a certain Ellen Olenska. Ellen is married to a Polish count but the two are separated, and she is of a slightly extravagant and artistic nature that is juxtaposed with the hesitant but single-minded ways of Newland?s fiancée May. The love of Newland for the unusual and exciting Polish lady is destroyed by the surprisingly devious May?s intervention. The American has on her side the acceptable ways of society and convention and as such we watch as Newland is dragged down into a marriage to May that is not in keeping with his true desires. Typically, the novel deals with Wharton?s desire to expose the conflicts between conventional, convenient love and the true desires of the individual that are so often undermined by society itself. The novel shows her ability to satirise in a humorous way the difficulties of life while also displaying a sense of the sadness intrinsic to foiled passions.