Newland Archer saw little to envy in the marriages of his friends, yet he prided himself that in May Welland he had found the companion of his needs. Enter Countess Olenska, a woman of quick wit sharpened by experience, and not afraid to flout convention. Against his judgment, Newland is drawn to the socially ostracized Ellen Olenska. He knows that in sweet-tempered May, he can expect stability and duty. But what new worlds could he discover with Ellen?