The Custom of the Country
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One of Edith Wharton's most acclaimed works, The Custom of the Country is a blistering indictment of materialism, power, and misplaced values. Its heroine, Undine Spragg, is one of the most ruthless characters in all of literature, as selfishly unscrupulous as she is fiercely beautiful. When her family acquires a small fortune, they leave America's heartland and head east. As Undine climbs the social ladder through a series of marriages and affairs, she shows little concern for who she has to step on to get anything and everything she desires. Her rise to the top of New York's elite society—before moving on to conquer Paris as well—provides a poignant and scathing commentary on the unquenchable ambitions of America's nouveau riche.