An early but accomplished work by Edith Wharton, The Touchstone is a tale of money and moral compromise, and foreshadows some of the best novels of her later life.
Stephen Glennard, an impoverished lawyer in the glamorous and money-driven society of New York, has one valuable possession: the letters written to him by the eminent and now deceased author Margaret Aubyn. He has seldom read the letters – he took their writer for granted herself – but they assume an importance for Glennard when it becomes clear that their financial worth will ensure his future stability and pay for his marriage to the beautiful Alexa Trent. What he fails to realise is that Aubyn’s ghost, once unleashed upon the reading public, will exercise an influence over his own life that reduces all his hopes and pleasures to ashes.
Original title: The Touchstone
Genre: Fiction→ General Fiction