The Glimpses of the Moon focuses on the theme of marriage and the social pressures that undermine marital stability and its promise of happiness. It portrays the marriage of Susy Branch and Nick Lansing, who are of socially prominent but no longer wealthy New York families. Nick dabbles with unprofitable literary pursuits, and Susy lives on the generosity of women friends for whom she provides companionship. The novel opens with the couple enjoying a moonlit evening during their honeymoon. We soon learn that they share a love of the advantages of high society and are enjoying a happy honeymoon through the beneficence of friends who provide homes and money for a time. In keeping with their monetary desires, the couple agreed before their marriage that either one is free to divorce if he or she gets a "better chance," i.e. marriage with a wealthy suitor. Their conditional marriage begins to falter as Susy grows jealous of her husband's attentions to a wealthy young woman and Nick becomes increasingly disgruntled by the moral compromises arising from his wife's social negotiations…
Edith Newbold Jones Wharton was born 1862 in New York, N.Y., into a wealthy and socially prominent family. A few years after her birth, in 1866 the family went abroad due to financial troubles. Wharton was educated privately at home by European governesses, learning French, Italian, and German. In 1885, after a broken engagement to Harry Stevens, Wharton married with no great enthusiasm Edward Wharton, who was twelve years her senior. Edward was a Boston banker and her brother's friend, but they had little in common. The Whartons spent much time in Europe from 1906. Although she maintained after divorce in 1913 a residence in the U.S., she continued to live in France, where she spent the rest of her life. For several years, Wharton subjected herself to an intense self-scrutiny. At her Paris apartment and her garden home in the south of France she became a literary hostess to young writers. Among her friends were Henry James, Walter Berry and Bernard Berenson, with whom she traveled in Germany in 1913.
Edith Wharton composed The Glimpses of the Moon after the end of World War I. For her, The Glimpses of the Moon offered a "flight from the last grim years, though its setting and situation were ultra-modern". She began work on it within a year after receiving the Pulitzer Prize in May 1921 for The Age of Innocence. Wharton died in France, St.-Brice-sous-Forêt, on August 11, 1937. Wharton's last novel, The Buccaneers, was left unfinished, but her literary executor had the novel published in 1938.
New York Times Book Review, July 23, 1922 – A good many people have considered Ethan Frome Mrs. Wharton’s masterpiece. Taking it all in all, I believe that—until The Glimpses of the Moon it has been. The Glimpses of the Moon in spite of the unpleasant people it forces you to live among for a time, is a better book than The Age of Innocence, even than The House of Mirth. It is not sentimental cant to say that an author must somehow lay hold on essential human facts in order to do first-rate work. No amount of cleverness will take the place of real contact with permanent problems of the race. Mrs Wharton is no John Knox, and no Dean Swift; she is neither preaching nor, in the technical sense, satirizing. She is offering an honest transcription of a “slice of life”-serious fiction.