Henry James' classic morality tale tells of a triangle of friends and lovers doomed to treachery by overreaching desire. In early-twentieth-century London, Kate Croy is secretly engaged to Merton Denscher, a journalist possessed of all the qualities of an ideal husband except for money. By chance, Kate befriends American heiress Milly Theale, who is suffering from a mysterious and fatal illness. Kate, who truly cares for Milly, devises a scheme to maximize their combined assets: she encourages Merton to take an interest in Milly, to seduce her, and finally, to marry her. By lending her lover to brighten Milly's few remaining days, Kate intends to make him a rich widower whom she herself can marry. But such well laid plans are not enough for the subtlety of the heart.
This is a brilliant and sophisticated satire of manners and morals in the best Jamesian tradition.