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Washington Square Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; Reprint edition (October 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1461036348
  • ISBN-13: 978-1461036340
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 7.9 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In the late-19th-century world of James (The Aspern Papers, Audio Reviews, LJ 1/93), upper-class New Yorkers move in an atmosphere of gentle melancholy, with just a touch of decadence. Catherine Sloper is neither brilliant nor charming, merely good. She is also the heiress Mr. Townsend wants to marry. Her father wants to protect her, or is it that he is more concerned with thwarting a defiant bounder? Her aunt uses Catherine's romance as an opportunity to add drama to her own life. Who will win? What is winning in this situation? Most of the book is devoted to a delicate exploration of the thoughts, activities, and motivations of a small group of people. William Hope delivers a clear and competent performance of the text. The question becomes, as Henry James is not a highly popular author, is there a significant audience for an abridged audio of his work? His focus on human interplay rather than plot would seem to appeal to "full text" readers. For this reason, although a very good value, this audiobook is recommended only for larger public and academic libraries.AI. Pour-El, Iowa State Univ., Ames
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

<DIV>"Lorna Raver doesn't just read this book; she inhabits it." - --AudioFile</div>

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 39 customer reviews
Characterisations are good, although few of the characters are very sympathetic.
Mr. Robert I. Porter
She may have sabotaged her future happiness as people tend to mature over time and the pair may have helped to support one another in good faith after awhile.
Phyllis Antebi Ph.D
I have read this book a number of times and each time, it amazes me how much more I find in it.
Pamela Dickinson-Noris

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By book concierge on June 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
The focus of this entire novel is money. But James manages to craft a tale that explores not only wealth, how it is used and what it means, but social class, family structure, filial obedience, parental responsibility, and strength of character. Catherine may be described by everyone as "sweet, but simple," but she has a will of steel, and will show her father that he has grossly underestimated her.

Honestly, I don't know why I waited so long to read a Henry James novel. For some reason I thought he would be "difficult," with long, complicated sentence structure and archaic language. If you have the same notion, get over it. This is a very approachable story. I was engaged and interested from the beginning. Of course, now I've added more Henry James to my tbr mountain ... but I think that's a good thing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James W. Fonseca on April 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
Here we are in New York City in the mid-1880's, a bit before Edith Wharton's time, but in the same social milieu. This is a kind of novel of manners, a mid-19th Century soap opera. Our author is Henry James, so be prepared for the long, convoluted, comma- and semicomma-laden sentences akin to those of Jane Austen.

Yet a fascinating book. Catherine, more or less our heroine, is plain, stolid, timid, obedient and, quite frankly, a bit on the dull side. She lives in her father's house. With her mother deceased, a widowed aunt is her caretaker and companion. Catherine is in her late 20's when a suitor finally appears (a late age for that era). Her suitor would be quite a catch for a gal like Catherine, so her father, a wealthy physician, immediately recognizes (and so do we) that he's after her inheritance. Her father forbids the marriage and in that process we learn that he is vindictive, petty, tyrannical, bullying - and wait --- there's something even worse: he doesn't really even LIKE his daughter.

The novel fast-forwards in the final chapters so we get to see how it all works out decades in the future. It's great writing --- it's Henry James after all. A good book for those who have a taste for the oblique references and flowery style of writing from that era.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stacy Helton on March 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
Throughout my years as an English major I never read Henry James, but a few months back I found this 1996 hardcover edition of WASHINGTON SQUARE, with 8 pages of vintage photographs of the environs around that most interesting piece of real estate nestled in Greenwich Village. I have hope of seeing THE HEIRESS this fall in New York when Jessica Chastain plays Catherine Sloper, the romantic, homely daughter of Dr. Sloper. WASHINGTON SQUARE, written in 1881, is the familiar story of a daughter, the titular heiress, who falls for a rogue whom the reader is led to believe is more interested in her inheritance than her. While reading the story I was surprised at how this not-all-too-surprising story was made fresh (or was this the original fresh version?) by the incredible prose of James and the vividness of New York City in the 19th century, when the cities' gentry continued to move north from the battery. The story truly begins when the doctor moves his daughter and widowed sister Lavania to the now-fashionable Washington Square, where, at her other aunt's party, she meets the dashing Morris Townsend, who, with the complicity of the widowed aunt, pays a call on Catherine in their opulent parlor. The story expounds from there, with twists and turns of thought, manners and character. WASHINGTON SQUARE is a rewarding addition the canon of 19th century New York City literature.
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By Carol on April 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There are four central characters in this novel. Henry James gives you a distinct personality for each one. Catherine is the under valued heiress. Dr. Sloper is the acerbic intelligent father. Lavina Penniman the flighty thoughtles aunt. Then finally Morris Townsend, the would be gigolo.

The tragedy is set up when three of the characters, father, aunt and boyfriend fail to appreciate Catherine for what she is. They can only see her for what she's not. James has a simple plot without a great deal of action. What makes this novel a gem is the marvelous conversation and brilliant characterization.
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By reader42 on March 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I only gave this book a 4 & not a 5 because it is a little convoluted. I saw the movie first "The Heiress" so I had an idea of what was going on. Not that the movies explained the story any different, but it gave me an idea where the story was going. The writing is a little old fashion in some of the wordage, if that doesn't bother you it is well worth the read.
The story is about a plain girl who is an heiress & the man who makes her feel wanted & loved. He really is after her money of course he is a very handsome but poor man with no prospects of earning any money except to marry it. Sad story for both of them. Catherine most of all. I hope you will take a chance & both read the book & see the movie.
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Format: Kindle Edition
“Mr. Henry James writes fiction as if it were a painful duty.”

Oh look at that, Oscar Wilde has already written my review of this book. Splendid. I mean, that’s it in a nutshell. Whatever criticisms I have of Washington Square seem to dance around that general sentiment.

Sometimes I feel like I read literature with half a mind toward the book’s content and the other half toward the goal of discovering an author’s particular writerly ills--as if finding weakness in a great author is the true motive for reading great literature. There is no such thing as perfection, no? But that wasn’t my motive. “Motive” implies premeditation, and if anything, I’d started this book with the plan to love it. Because I loved The Portrait of a Lady, and yes, James’ incredibly accomplished, “dutiful” prose. But for reasons that would require too much of my own duty to get into, James’ characteristic style weighed heavy on the feeble shoulders of this plain story.

I thought the characters were, not surprisingly, well imagined and acutely described. They were not the disappointment; for me, the plot was--a thin thing that perhaps even James got tired of harping on. So many conversations in the novel were about the same thing. And then of course, when one of the characters prides himself on being right 100% of the time, you know there can’t be much change in the views expressed. Any mental and/or emotional movements in the story occur minimally and at a glacial pace. I listened to this in audio, and how tiring it became hearing these people talk in circles, never to agree or influence the opinion of another, only to float along with obedient patience.
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