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Nick Lansing and Susy Branch are young, attractive, but impoverished New Yorkers. They are in love and decide to marry, but realise their chances of happiness are slim without the wealth and society that their more privileged friends take for granted. Nick and Susy agree to separate whenever either encounters a more eligible proposition. However, as they honeymoon in friends' lavish houses, from a villa on Lake Como to a Venetian palace, jealous passions and troubled consciences cause the idyll to crumble. In this luscious novel, Edith Wharton perceptively describes the seductions and temptations of society, through the lens of a couple facing a heart-wrenching dilemma.