The House of Mirth follows Lily Bart, a young(ish?) woman in New York's high society in the early 20th century, in the days of wild Wall Street speculation, over-the-top opulence, and aristocratic ennui. Lily, however, does not actually have the money of the society she keeps with, as her parents died and left her broke and living with her aunt. Her only aspiration, it seems, is to continue to live life the only way she's known it: with egregious, superfluous expense, more or less doing nothing but gossiping and wearing Parisian dresses and playing bridge. To continue to do this, she must marry into wealth – but each time she's on the precipice of snagging some nice (read: terribly boring, sometimes boorish) rich man, she does something to sabotage it. She lives with the imp of freedom and independence whispering into her ear, though that is totally at odds with the live she wants to live; thus she is constantly at odds with herself. There's also something of an underplayed romance with her and Lawrence Selden, but, meh. To me this felt ill-developed so as to cause no flutterings in my heart.
Anyways, blah blah, she continues to ruin herself via self-sabotage and having really shitty friends, but they keep her around, it seems only because she is very pretty.
Suffice to say that I didn't like this one much. The flourish of the writing, typical of the era, captivated me at first with delightfully overwrought phrases, but eventually after a few chapters that wears, and it seems like the book just drags on and on well after the point is made pretty clear. Also, as a self-respecting, independent woman reading this, I just wanted her to make up her mind already and sell her soul to an unhappy relationship and bountiful wealth or independence and poverty. I get that it's not so simple (there were 200 pages expounding upon the inner turmoil) but it's frustrating as a reader.