The Bostonians is set ten years after the end of the American Civil War. The North had been victorious because of its industrial strength, but could not live up to the ideals for which it fought. James satirizes the North’s moral decline in Olive Chancellor’s fervent idealism and Basil Ransom’s reactionary stance, both of which are equally inappropriate. When first published the novel was a resounding failure. The Americans could not accept such criticism and many were offended by the latent lesbianism in Olive’s relationship with Verena.