Originally published in 1913, The Custom of the Country is a full length novel about the incessant rise of Undine Spragg, an attractive, vivacious woman of the American Mid-West who is fuelled by ambition, and greed, combined with an all too obvious disregard for the feelings of anyone else except herself. Using marriage and divorce as the means to an end, Undine is at once a loathsome creature yet at the same time one with whom the reader can associate with or even root for. She is an archetype anti-heroine; perhaps a step removed or rather a continent displaced from say Becky Sharpe. While Wharton's plot is almost by necessity presented as a complex web revolving around Undine's exploits, it is at the same time secondary to the presentation of Undine's character. There's no sense of evolution in the way she is presented, it's clear from the first words, Mrs Spragg's impassioned and frankly rhetorical question, that Undine has a way about her.