This is a small novella. It reminds me so much of a few different Henry James stories (with the obvious splash of Edith Wharton). The time period of 1900 to about 1930 (before the full thrust of the Lost Generation and Modernism is in full steam) is a weird time in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Mark Tawin and Henry James cross over with Edith Wharton and Jack London. In the UK, Yeats, Joyce (I know I know Irish), Doyle cross over with the likes of Ford Madox Ford and DH Lawrence and EM Forster and we’re so close to Woolf and even Graham Greene.
There’s a funny kind of American cosmopolitanism here. So New York becomes Paris when the interloper of modern “Aristocratic” society comes from the Midwest. So similar to the way Daisy Miller crashes central Europe, we have our narrator showing up in New York, but the story isn’t hers, so much as her perspective on decades worth of a marriage that looks so fun and loving and bohemian in the first meeting, but looks so disastrous and devastating in the last. So peppered with the themes of how love and hate are kissing cousins, how marriage can be a stewpot for resentment, and how the possibilities of divorce add a layer of tension to these elements, this novella looks critically at the differences between bohemian culture and traditional values. So in the sense that it almost feels like Daisy Miller, it’s important to remember that American society has no sense of history, and instead we’re left with a version of that other (better) Henry James story “The Beast in the Jungle.”