A fictionalized study based on many biographical materials and family accounts of Henry James's life, this volume ranges seamlessly from his memories ...Show synopsisA fictionalized study based on many biographical materials and family accounts of Henry James's life, this volume ranges seamlessly from his memories of his prominent Brahmin family in the States to his settling in England. Along the way it offers hints of James's troubled sexual identity.Hide synopsis
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First off, know that I did not finish the book. One hundred pages in I decided I'd rather read something that seemed to be heading somewhere. I was hoping for something with more depth, more character, more intrigue--more James, actually. I didn't necessarily care that it was slow moving; but I did care that there didn't seem to be any progress toward something. All it seemed to be was snippets of James' life with no real development, no plot, no question. Perhaps it was going to be like some sort of pointillist painting that only made complete sense once all was said and done and you stepped back, but I didn't make it to the end. And if you can't get the reader to the end, what's the point?
An intriguing novel about Henry James, his preoccupations, his work, and ultimately, his inability to involve himself emotionally in others and the aspects of life that could have provided full satisfaction to himself. Toibin is masterful in using a tone that reflects James' own, and in depicting a man who wrote about life rather than living it. The book is not for fans of fast cinematic cuts or fast-moving narratives. This is a book for the patient reader--for those who have tried enough Henry James to know that there is depth there, even if they find it maddeningly obscured by the long sentences and hyper-refined elocutions. For one who has basically given up on James work, I found this novel quite valuable to read.
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