What has always amazed me about this book is that a man who never married, wrote it. Henry James wrote a masterpiece about a young independent American woman, Isabel Archer, shackled by marriage to an egotistical and spiteful expat American man (Osmond) who did not love her, and who was involved with another woman (Madame Merle). Both of them conspire to defraud her of her large inheritance. She discovers this, but by the time she can do something about it, she has become attached to Osmond's daughter Pansy, and decides to stay in her dead marriage. James' description of a lifeless marriage, defined by deception, cynicism and infidelity, is spot on, surprisingly, since he himself never married. But he had lifelong friends of both sexes, in Europe and America. I would guess that he spent hours talking to them about many things, among them love and marriage. If you have not read this book, I recommend it highly.