The Golden Bowl
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Henry James, the master of the psychologically compelling novel, delivers a story of adultery and intrigue in The Golden Bowl. An Italian nobleman, Prince Amerigo, is about to marry Maggie Verver, the daughter of a wealthy American financier and collector. Amerigo decides to buy Maggie a wedding gift, and he takes his former mistress Charlotte Stant to an old curiosity shop, where he almost purchases an antique golden bowl. But he changes his mind because he suspects it contains a secret flaw. Following the marriage, Maggie realizes that her father Adam Verver is lonely, and she decides that a match with Charlotte would be advantageous for him. She persuades him to propose to Charlotte, who accepts; but once they are married, Charlotte and Amerigo have even more of a reason to spend time together. They finally initiate an adulterous affair, sneaking around Maggie and her father. Maggie, though, begins to suspect them, and the mysterious golden bowl enters into the narrative again. Coincidentally going to the same shop, Maggie buys the very golden bowl that Amerigo and Charlotte had almost bought for her. With the mysterious golden bowl at its heart, this novel of deceit and discovery builds towards a riveting conclusion.
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Henry James (1843-1916) was born in New York City to a wealthy and prominent family. His father was a well-known writer and thinker, and James’s parents offered their son a solid education and frequent travel to Europe. James began to write as a young man, publishing his first novel, Watch and Ward, in 1871. Over the next several years, James produced a wealth of short stories, novels, plays, and non-fiction prose, among them such celebrated titles as The Portrait of a Lady, Roderick Hudson, The Bostonians, and What Maisie Knew. Living most of his life abroad, James moved in many prominent intellectual circles, befriending many of the great artists, writers, and thinkers of his day. In a move that shocked many, James took British citizenship in 1915 in order to express his disappointment with the United States for not yet having entered the First World War. Feeling more at home abroad than in America, James spent the rest of his life in England. To this day, he is known as “the Master” for his intelligent, intricate writing that explores the dramatic psychological machinations beneath even the simplest of human interactions and events.Back to top
Opening Lines (Experimental)
The Prince had always liked his London, when it had come to him; he was one of the modern Romans who find by the Thames a more convincing image of the truth of the ancient state than any they have left by the Tiber. Brought up on the legend of the City to which the world paid tribute, he recognised ...Back to top
Reviewed by raderwoman on Apr 6, 2009
The Golden Bowl
I have to say this book is not the best choice to read on line because it is based on such exquisite subtleties that it requires some rereading on occasion. It is SO subtle that I think most modern readers would toss it over their shoulders after the first 100 pages if not before. The writing is ornate, even for James, and the sentence structures sometimes a real challenge to parse. Maggie's method of dealing with a truly horrible situation and finding, most of the way through, that her father is aware of everything, provides a perversity that I am not sure a reader of today could even begin to understand. Interestingly for me, I found the father-daughter relationship utterly treacly and even distasteful at the beginning of the book. By the end I admired their complete sympathy for one another.
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Ratings for 'The Golden Bowl' by James, Henry