'Moneys a horrid thing to follow, but a charming thing to meet.'
Isabel Archer is a beautiful, intelligent and independent young woman.
Brought from America to England by her wealthy Aunt who seeks to further her education and find her niece a husband, Isabel is determined to shape her own future - one that does not necessarily entail becoming a wife. Isabel inherits a fortune when her rich uncle dies and feels even more inclined to turn down two eligible suitors on the basis that she is a woman of her own means.
However, a trip to Italy heralds her downfall when she meets the charming Gilbert Osmond, a worthless, yet ambitious and scheming dilettante.