The Wings of the Dove, and my failure at reading it

Even this edition wouldn't have helped.
This month's theme is Realism in Fanda's Literary Movements Challenge.  I chose to read Henry James' The Wings of the Dove, which is one of my Classics Club titles.  I quite enjoyed Portrait of a Lady a couple of years ago, and figured I would enjoy this too.

Boy was I wrong.  Wings of the Dove is 700 pages long; 300 pages into it, I was unhappily slogging and sometimes skimming.  I had never gotten to care one bit for any of the characters.  I was curious about the scheme that is the center of the plot, but it hadn't even gotten started yet and I was losing patience.  I felt that there was so much detail and nuance and fine shading of feeling that the characters and plot were lost in the morass--a real forest-for-the-trees situation.  I eventually told myself to stop suffering and put the dang book down already, and promptly felt better.

So I am hereby admitting defeat on this title.  It's my first Classics Club failure, so I'm not very thrilled, but wow, that novel was terrible.   I'm going to salvage my dented pride by reading one or two short stories by Henry James instead.


  1. Perhaps Daisy Miller will be a better experience.

  2. I hated this book too. I got to about 300 pages as well and skimmed the rest (high speed!). I've not yet found a novel by James that I liked. Plenty of novellas, but no novels. And I've got The Golden Bowl on my 2015 challenges too, so I'm dreading it (and I don't want to skim it either, it's apparently inspired by an Émile Zola novel I like)! If I end up hating that one as well I officially give up on James novels.

  3. Well, it is somewhat comforting to know that you also hated it. This is the first time I've really *failed* at a book for a challenge. :P However, I've read a couple of short stories now and those are much better.

  4. I am ashamed to admit that I have never been able to read James. He depressed the heck out of me for some reason. So kudos to you for being able to enjoy at least some of his work!

  5. Jean, I've failed a great many book challenges - one gets used to it ;)


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