Thursday, May 14, 2020

226. The Golden Bowl

The Golden Bowl
Henry James
Around 600 pages

Whenever an author has a significant amount of entries on the List, I usually rank their works when we reach the end of their appearances. I noticed that when it came to Henry James, my ranking of best to worst was, for the most part, in reverse chronological order:

1. The Portrait of a Lady
2. The Turn of the Screw
3. What Maisie Knew
4. The Wings of the Dove
5. The Ambassadors
6. The Golden Bowl

Maybe in gaining confidence in his prose, he lost the urge to edit. In any case, I'm not sorry that we are done with his works, and he is the kind of genius that I would hate to meet in person.

Prince Amerigo is in London for his marriage to Maggie Verver. Maggie is a wealthy heiress and is friends with Charlotte Stant. Unbeknownst to Maggie, Charlotte and Amerigo were former lovers. Charlotte is urged to marry Maggie's father, because being a woman in Henry James novel is pretty terrible.

With so few characters, James really does an excellent job of presenting us with flawed, believable personalities, at least until the end. But I have to roll my eyes at the use of symbolism in this novel. It's cheesy, and with all the attention paid to the Golden Bowl, I was half hoping it would get up and dance, instead of just sitting there representing lost illusions or whatever.

The reign of Henry is over, and I can't wait to see what comes next.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Included on Guardian's list of 100 Best Novels.

Trailer from YouTube:

UP NEXT: The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers. Looking forward to this one!

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