The House of Mirth (Hardcover)
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Lily Bart, a beautiful but impoverished socialite, is on her way to a house party at Bellomont, the country home of her best friend, Judy Trenor. Her pressing task is to find a husband with the requisite wealth and status to maintain her place in New York society. Judy has arranged for her to meet the wealthy though boring Percy Gryce, a potential suitor. Lily grew up surrounded by elegance and luxury-an atmosphere she cannot live without as she has learned to abhor "dinginess." The loss of her father's wealth and the death of her parents left her an orphan without inheritance or a caring protector. She adapts to life as ward of her straight-laced aunt Julia Peniston from whom she receives an erratic allowance, a fashionable address, and good food, but little succor. Additional challenges to her success in the "marriage market" are her advancing age-she has been on the "marriage market" for ten years, her penchant for gambling at bridge leaving her with debts beyond her means to pay, her efforts to keep up with her wealthy friends, her inner most desire to marry for love as well as money and status, and her longing to be free of the claustrophobic constrictions and routines of upper crust society.