In Edith Wharton's Roman Fever two wealthy American widows Alida Slade and Grace Ansley have taken their two marriageable daughters on a Continental tour. The older women linger at a restaurant with a view of the Forum while their daughters leave for an unchaperoned outing. The women talk of how carefully their mothers guarded them, and how their own mothers were in turn warned of Roman fever to keep them in at night. As the tale progressed in Rome Mrs. Slade finally, after all these years tells Mrs. Ansley that she was the one who sent her the note from Mr. Slade, asking her to meet him at the colloseum. Mrs. Slade was jealous and wanted to keep Mr. Slade at any cost, including letting Mrs. Ansley catch Roman Fever. At the end of the tale, Mrs. Slade realizes that her plan all those years ago failed, and that Mr. Slade and Mrs. Ansley did meet that night, but Mrs. Slade still felt she ultimately won the war, because she ended up with Mr. Slade in the end, and had him for 25 years, where as Mrs. Ansley only had him for that one night. Mrs. Ansley not only didn't have to wait at the colloseum, but she gave Mr. Slade what Mrs. Slade had thought she had given him, his first-born. In the end, if Mrs. Slade hadn't sent the original note to the young Mrs. Ansley, none of this would have turned out as it did, so in a way Mrs. Slade had no one to blame for the consequences but herself. After all, Grace does get Roman fever after going to the Colosseum at night but she also gets the type of daughter that Alida has always wanted. The final thought is that people are not what they seem to be.
Alida and Grace have been friends for many years yet they know nothing about each other. They both know about Grace's affair with Alida's fiancé but it takes twenty five years before they learn important details about the evening that change their lives- Grace finds out that Delphin did not write the letter that has been so important to her all these years, and Alida learns of her husband's connection to Grace's daughter.