I thought reading Lolita was tortuous. There are worse things. To read ‘portrait of a lady’ by Henry James..
Most of my friends would probably laugh at this, I’m the last one to lay claim to being a lady so a book dedicated to being one was always going to be a stretch.
The thing was the blurb started out so promising. I would love to have a stern word with the blurb writers at penguin.
Which described it as ‘ a tale of an independent woman whose main ambition in life is to preserve her independence and embarks on travels to broaden her mind and views. She fails to be ensnared by the trappings of marriage until she meets an American in Italy who catches her attention.’
And it stops there. What it should really say is:
” naively innocent young woman travels to England and finds herself made wealthy by a family member. Spends far too long introvertly analysing her behaviour, morals and the people around her. She is obsessed with doing the right thing, even to the sacrifice of her own happiness. She turns down proposals from two good men who love, admire and appreciate her independence and don’t care a bit about her wealth. She instead finds herself married to a man who traps her like a bird in a cage. Like an artifact he has collected, and if that’s not bad enough, he appears to have married her for her money and convenience while being involved with one of the very friends who introduced them.”
Basically a case of a nice girl going for the wrong guy, the bad guy instead of the ‘nice guy.’
It sounds gripping, a bit like melrose place in morning suits type of book but actually it’s just plain depressing. She lives her life-like a character in a book, not fully embracing it and the fact she just throws her independence away so early in the book just baffles the mind.
And when old suitors come back to woo her and also woo her step daughter, it’s even more disorienting.
Henry has the ability to over analyse and completely deconstruct a scene, until it’s no longer enjoyable. He directly addresses the reader throughout which makes it plain uncomfortable and I suffered throughout trying to finish it.
Thank god it wasn’t the done thing to describe sex scenes back in day. I can only imagine how he would labour over of every lump, bump and hair. It would be enough to put anyone of their breakfast or the act for a long time.
Or at least until dinner time anyways. So it’s with this in mind I’d like to send a note to mr James.
We are over. I don’t want to read another word from you again. I now know that anyone who praises your work must be a prat, a twat or at the very least boring from the inside out.
Just because you are on the top 100 classic list does not mean you are a good read.