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Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Wings of the Dove (1902) by Henry James

Helena Bonham Carter played Kate Croy in the film version of The Wings of a Dove

Book Review
The Wings of the Dove (1902)
by Henry James

  It looks like I'm reading on a consistent basis, but basically I went through a period this summer where I didn't have much going on socially and just pre-wrote reviews up until the last one.  Then I got something going anddd.... long story short it took me about six weeks to finish The Wings of the Dove because I just didn't give a fuck.

  I thought I had a pretty decent handle on Henry James from Portrait of a Lady and What Maisle Knew but I found The Wings of the Dove to be difficult to comprehend, even though the story is, in the end, fairly straight forward.  James is in high form in The Wings of a the Dove, sentences stretch on for entire pages.   It is common to see sentences like this:
   Opening clause, second clause, third clause: fourth clause, fifth clause - sixth clause, seventh clause, eighth clause.
   This is like every page.  Certainly there is insight a plenty to be gleaned, but a fun read The Wings of the Dove is not.  The story of The Wings of the Dove is quintessentially Jamesian in its moral ambiguity.  Milly Theale is a wealthy heiress stricken with an incurable disease.  Kate Croy is her penniless BFF, and Merton Densher is Croy's equally penniless betrothed.  Croy convinces Densher to woo Milly under false pretenses in the hopes that she will leave him her fortune and enable them to marry.  Long winded, morally ambiguous conversations ensue.


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