I knew this book was a classic, but not that it was a romance. I went in not knowing what to expect and came out liking the book in general; however, it was difficult for me at times.
First, I had no idea how snooty and shallow New York society was at the turn of the 20th century. I can understand why many of the characters acted as they did.
Second, I was rather surprised that Archer and Madame Olenska did not end up being able to be together. They seemed to have much more chemistry than Archer and the woman he married and had a child with. Also, Olensky seemed like a right bastard and I wanted to see his ass kicked by Archer or that Madame Olenska would just divorce him and sacrifice everything to be with Archer.
I guess that wouldn't make as good a story, however, and it seemed to me that the major theme of the story was to remember familial duty above all, a theme which unfortunately doesn't translate well with modern readers, as that generally isn't something we have to face.