This article is part of T’s Book Club, a series of essays and events dedicated to classic works of American literature. Click here to R.S.V.P. to a virtual conversation, led by Claire Messud, about “The Custom of the Country,” to be held on Jan. 28.
“The Custom of the Country” (1913), by Edith Wharton, is about many things: the terrifying ambition of its protagonist, Undine Spragg; marriage; divorce; New York and Paris society — but also the arrival of new American money into those fashionable circles, the ranks of which have always been carefully guarded. Undine, who