Lily Bart, twenty-nine years old and unmarried, wants a higher standing in society. She believes she can attain this dream by marrying a rich man. Unfortunately, her true love, Lawrence Selden, isn't wealthy enough, so Lily has to search elsewhere for a husband. She rejects many suitors, always holding out for a better offer, and instead of climbing the social ladder, she finds her status and reputation slipping. American author Edith Wharton first published her novel exploring social pressures and ambition in 1905.