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Of course, who am I to review Henry James? Granted, I read more books and watch less television than most of my peers, but still I think I might be too "late Twentieth Century" for this book. Maybe despite my strict avoidance of video games I just can't help detesting the millipede pace of this book. I've never had much affinity for drawing room conversations to begin with, and unlike my father I don't believe that wit must be meted out in tortuous sentences.
But it isn't my background or personal prejudices that make me recoil from "Wings of the Dove". There is something about the deliberate quality of Henry James that bothers me. He knows perfectly well what he's doing with his fat succulent sentences. He won't feed you a meal of lean pork and vegetables. He'll serve you tons of tiny truffles and oil-oozing, crispy skinned duck.
To read "Wings of the Dove" is like encountering a cookbook that decided to include as much of the delicious fatty foods as possible. Of course its a rare meal and quite wonderful in its way. But some how, it made me a little nauseous at the end.
As everybody knows, Hery James is not an easy writer. His appeal is very difficult and complex although it doesn't read very old-fashioned. The story is very interesting and timeless, because it deals with passion, money and betrayal. The books follows Kate Croy and her beloved Merton Densher when then both get involved - in different degrees and with different interests- with the beautiful rich and sick American heiress Milly Theale.
Most of the time, the book kept me wondering what would come next and its result and the grand finale. But, that doesn't mean I was fully understand its words. As I said, I was just feeling what was going on. As a result, i don't think I was able to get all the complexity of Henry James. Maybe, if I read this book again in the futures, it will be clearer.
There is a film version of this novel made in 1997, and starring Helena Bonham Carter, Allison Elliot and Linus Roach, directed by Iain Softley. Carter is amazing as always! Kate is a bit different from the book, she is not only a manipulative soul, but, actually, she is a woman trying to find happiness. One character says of Kate, "There's something going on behind those beautiful lashes", and that's true for most female leads created by James. Watching this movie helped me a lot, after finishing reading the novel.
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