Descent of Man and Other Stories
By: Edith Wharton (1862-1937)
This collection of ten stories, first published in 1904, shows Edith Wharton dissecting some of the customs, habits and vagaries of courtship and marriage, particularly as practiced in the upper reaches of New York society at the turn of the twentieth century (two stories, however, are set in Italy). Fidelity is only one problem; others may arise from the machinations and emotions of the protagonists or outsiders. Wharton handles the questions with her usual gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) irony and curiosity about human behavior.