I don’t have much to say about this book, but in the interest of chronicling what I read, and because I already mentioned in a previous post that it was our next book club pick, I did want to make a short post about it.
Why don’t I have much to say? For one, we already had our book club meeting to discuss it, so I spoke at length about it then. And–because, boy oh boy, did I hate this book. Even sitting on a blissful Brooklyn rooftop, sipping mimosas and listening to some of the smartest, most insightful women around illuminate the reasons why the book wasn’t the total crap I felt it to be, I can’t muster much more than vitriol for it.
Henry James wrote an enormous, enormous book in which about two things actually happen. All other “action” is internal action, taking place in the circular thinking of the book’s four main characters, or in the back-and-forth bickering of another couple, the story’s observers and instigators. This is a pretty cool idea, and placed in historical context, all the more revolutionary. But there barely was a sentence in the entire book that I could get through without going cross-eyed and wanting to smash my Kindle. All the interesting ideas in the world can’t save dense, overwrought, meandering, maddening sentences. Here’s one: “Sharp to her above all was the renewed attestation of her father’s comprehensive acceptances, which she had so long regarded as of the same quality with her own, but which, so distinctly now, she could have the complication of being obliged to deal with separately.” Tell me there aren’t a million better ways to have written that–and pretty much every sentence has that sort of clause-filled, confusing construction.
I found this book absolutely impossible to read and very easy to hate.