Book 1: Washington Square by Henry James

Washington Square

I enjoyed this book more than I was expecting to. I have not succeeded very well with Henry James in the past and chose this as a last ditch attempt to like his work. It’s one of his earlier works, published in 1880, so less impressionistic than the later stuff. It really helped that it had a plot. (I confess to liking stories where something actually happens). But it’s not exactly a cheery read. It also suffers from the general problem that I have with James, which is to be saturated with worldiness and sarcasm.

The essential story is that of a young woman struggling against the influence of everyone around her; her domineering father who threatens to disinherit her if she marries a man he does not approve of, her fiance who is charming, but feckless and clearly too interested in her money and a very stupid aunt who has decided to cast her niece as leading lady in her own personal gothic novel. The book has a sad, lonely ending and left me dissatisfied with the lack of character development. None of the protagonists seemed to learn anything, except for Catherine, the heroine, who found that her only way to achieve some degree of freedom in life was to do nothing with it.

Plot 5/10

Characters 5/10

Readability 7/10 (much easier read than I was expecting)

Laughs 0/10 (no jokes or comic characters)

On the read again pile? No

So that was Week 1. My overall plan is to start new books on a Tuesday and blog about them the following weekend  (Monday is choir night, so no reading then).

And for Week 2? Something completely different: The Shack by Willam Paul Young. I don’t often read “Christian” novels, apart from CS Lewis of course. I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t touch the Left Behind series with a bargepole for example. But I acquired The Shack recently through Bookmooch and have heard a lot about it. So here goes.

I think I’ll be reading novels throughout January and the first half of February. For Lent I’ll try and find six new Christian books to read on a variety of topics. Once we’re past Easter it’ll be back to the fiction.


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