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Washington Square

Washington Square (1881), by Henry James, tells the story of Catherine Sloper, the plain, obedient daughter of the widowed, well-to-do Dr. August Sloper of Washington Square. When a handsome, feckless man-about-town proposes to Catherine, her father forbids the marriage because he believes the man to be after Catherine's fortune and future inheritance. The conflict between father, daughter, and suitor provokes consequences in the lives of all three that make this story one of James's most piercingly memorable.
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About the Author

American author Henry James (1843-1916) spent most of his career in Europe and ultimately adopted British citizenship. A prolific writer of criticism, biography, and travel-related books and articles, James is known above all for his highly influential novels, which frequently explore the clash of Old and New World cultures.


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.ÄI. Pour-El, Iowa State Univ., Ames Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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