Ron's Reviews > The Wings of the Dove

The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
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did not like it
bookshelves: flung-across-room
Recommended for: no-one

Nope, sorry.

I read a really enticing review of this, got all excited, drove across three suburbs and two villages to get to the library where it was mouldering on the shelf, got it home, opened the first page, and then I remembered.

Friends don't let friends read Henry James.

If you're thinking about reading this, then be warned. The sentences are constructed like algebraic equations, with nested parenthesis within nested parenthesis within nested parenthesis. It gets to the point you feel that, like the constipated mathematician, you have to work it out with a pencil.

First sentence She waited, Kate Croy, for her father to come in, but he kept her unconscionably, and there were moments at which she showed herself, in the glass over the mantel, a face positively pale with the irritation that had brought her to the point of going away without sight of him.

Life is too short to read books that are built like a set of babushka dolls.

I'm actually going to set up a new shelf: flung-across-room. This is the first book on that shelf.
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Reading Progress

March 20, 2014 – Shelved
March 20, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
March 25, 2014 – Started Reading
March 30, 2014 – Shelved as: flung-across-room
March 30, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

To my mind there's nothing particularly convoluted or challenging about the sentence you quote. Bet you can find 'worse' examples than that...?


message 2: by Bonnie (new)

Bonnie Camm I'm glad I'm not the only one...I gave it 140 pages and JUST.COUDN'T.DO.IT.


Susan What an awful book. It's so painful that I wouldn't be able to go back and find an example of a long-winded, convoluted sentence. Just open to any page and there you go.


Sallie Dunn I read this in 2010 and you’ve nailed it! Henry James is not bag!


message 5: by Yen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Yen It was really pretty hard-going!!


Sharon Carey You're so right, Ron. I think James got more of a kick out of trying to flummox us all as opposed to writing good, accessible writing. He used it as a mental exercise instead to to tell a good story,


message 7: by William2 (new) - added it

William2 I haven’t been able to stomach it after several tries.


message 8: by Denise (new) - added it

Denise Fully on board with your assessment. Try listening to this an an audiobook! It's taking me months to get through it because I fall asleep, then re-listen to the segment the next night... and fall asleep! The poetic language is great if you're an insomniac. The narrator Juliet Stevenson is impeccable but not enough for me to grasp the meaning of the never ending, concentric sentences.


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