'Money's 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.