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100 Greatest Novels: The Wings of the Dove & The Ambassadors

07 May

It’s been incredibly too long since my last 100 greatest novels post. I sincerely apologize. But, Henry James! I struggled to get through these two books. The sentences were incredibly way too long. Each sentence had a minimum of a dozen commas, two semicolons, and at least one dash. Seriously. Anyways, let’s get through it.

The_Wings_of_the_Dove_(Henry_James_Novel)_1st_edition_coverThe Wings of the Dove by Henry James

This story, that starts in London, moves to America, than Europe, than London, than Italy, and back to London, was a somewhat interesting story, albeit slow, of a girl, a young woman, who befriends many people, from America to Italy, and decides she is dying of some unnamed disease; this dying leads to secrets, plans, backstabbing, and open, and hidden, proposals of all the men to all the women-well, most-the other women being the ones, two in particular, that are pushing the proposals, while keeping other proposals from happening in the open; which, invariably, brings us to the tension of who the dying girl loves; and, of course, who loves her back.

I can’t do it. If you don’t believe me, read the book. If you hated the above paragraph, stray far from Henry James.

180px-TheAmbassadorsThe Ambassadors by Henry James

I wish I had read this book first. It’s not nearly as bad as Wings of the Dove. The story is a little more interesting and the humor is darker and more sarcastic. The writing lets you experience where the stories are located. I enjoyed reading about Paris in the early 1900s. James’ writing was still difficult. But let me tell you about the story. It follows Lambert Strether to Europe to convince the son of his widowed fiancee to come back to America to take up the family business. Supposedly, the wayward son has become caught up with a “wicked” woman. Once in Paris, the facts don’t match what Strether was made to expect and his mission becomes somewhat complicated by people he meets and friends he makes. Overall, I enjoyed this novel but I was so sick of Henry James that I didn’t get as much as I would have liked out of it. I would recommend it for someone wanting to read about Paris at the turn of the century.

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Up next is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night. I’m a fan of Fitzgerald’s writing but haven’t read this novel so I’m looking forward to it. Onward we go.

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