Mrs Gereth is convinced that Fleda Vetch would make the perfect daughter-in-law. Only the dreamy, highly-strung young woman can genuinely appreciate, and perhaps eventually share, Mrs Gereth's passion for her 'things' - the antique treasures she has amassed at Poynton Park in the south of England. Owen Gereth, however, has inconveniently become engaged to the uncultured Mona Brigstock.
As a dramatic family quarrel unfolds, the hesitating Fleda is drawn in, yet she remains reluctant to captivate Owen, who seems as attracted to her as she is to him. Is she motivated by scruple or fear? In "The Spoils of Poynton (1897)", Henry James created a work of exquisite ambiguity in his depiction of three women fighting for the allegiance of one weak-willed man.