David's Reviews > The Golden Bowl

The Golden Bowl by Henry James
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M_50x66
's review
Nov 16, 09

Read in September, 2009

The Golden Bowl is a simple story, very much like a traditional fairy tale. Early on, an Italian prince marries the daughter of a very wealthy American collector. A threat to a "happily ever after" ending is soon introduced, and the story line details how the four primary characters -- The Prince, The Princess, Adam Verver (The Princess' father) and Charlotte Stant -- interact in the face of this threat.

The narration of The Golden Bowl is anything but simple. Most chapters are presented from the viewpoint of one of three of the principal characters. The reader observes -- either more fully or less fully -- the internal thoughts and even motives of these three. The result is an exquisitely nuanced and surprisingly engaging story.

The Golden Bowl is about flaws, how they are to be identified and how -- or even whether -- they should be addressed. Should one risk the total destruction of a very fine object merely to determine whether it is flawed or even to demonstrate that it is? On the other hand, is simple innocence an indication that a character is capable of nothing more? Indeed flaws can be either apparent but not real or undectable but nevertheless quite real.

The Golden Bowl has its own pace. Some may find the author's focus on the details of the relevant aspects of The Golden Bowl's characters and their relationship to be wordy and even plodding. But, if taken on its own terms, this book can provide a very rewarding reading experience.
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