This is a fairly intriguing turn of the century cautionary tale that in a way reminds me of the tv series Ballykissangel, namely the damning fate of Assumpta Fitzgerald when she falls in love with a Catholic priest. Though here, the main character Isabel falls for a married man.
This isn’t a true love story. It shows how one can romanticize a tale to a point beyond all sense and reason, creating an infatuation that’s based on a bunch of fluff. The resulting obsession negatively affects any potential positive outcomes Isabel could have had with the other men she has met.
The story also reflects upon the sad lack of options available for an educated or “finished” woman with little to no financial backing. The best choices available for such a woman would be an advantageous marriage or the convent; anything else would demean her current position in society. However, the story also cautions what could happen to the current “it” girl in society, if she can’t secure a successful match within a season or two. Beauty and interest can fade fast when a new group of ingenues is being introduced in the new season.
The novel offers an ironic, sensational ending that easily solves the main conflict. The ending does have the potential of reinforcing the idea that life will go on despite any uncomfortable hardships that can momentarily obscure the natural order of things. This ironic turn is reminiscent of the themes you might find in early nineteenth century French novels, especially Balzac’s stories and novellas.