A story detailing upper class “society” New York of the 1870s as the backdrop. Wharton details parties and mores. As the story goes along it feels more and more critical of them. A couple oddities: 1) Newland Archer, the protagonist, visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in its infancy but describing how it will be great one day. 2) Archer also picking up Ellen at a train station ruminating about disliking the theory the Pennsylvania line would go eventually tunnel into proper New York (Penn Station?).
After having watched several seasons of the TV show Archer, I think that title character is an obvious reference to Newland Archer in this novel. TV-Archer drinks heavily, sleeps with a lot of women, and somehow completely improbably buffoons his way through complex problems.
The love triangle did not really excite me. His options are May who represents the right thing (duty, stability, comfort) versus Ellen who represents his rebellion (passion, ostracized, escape). However, the guilt and conflict were vividly described.