Thursday, January 14, 2010

Damned if you do

Current book: The Wings of the Dove
Pages read: 586 (369) - 689 (472) (end)

Done! Huzzah! So. Kate never goes and has sex with Merton, much to my dismay, although we don't really cover the fallout of that; I guess maybe she does and James is just too delicate to talk about it. Anyway, in the end, Lord Mark goes to visit Milly and, out of spite for the fact that Kate won't marry him, he tells her that Kate and Merton are secretly engaged. This sends her into some kind of fit of illness, and she starts fading fast. She won't see Merton, who decides that this is as good a reason as any to give up the deception he's long been uncomfortable with, and he goes back to England to marry Kate. She's disappointed in him for failing to get engaged to Milly, but they're still, apparently, in love.

Shortly after Merton gets to England, Milly snuffs it, but, as it turns out, she leaves him a generous bequest in her will. When he discovers this fact, though, his conscience smites him, and he gives Kate an ultimatum: either they don't touch the money and they get married, or he gives her the money and breaks off the engagement. So, basically, it comes down to Kate choosing the money or the marriage. She chooses the marriage (I'd like to point out that this happens in the space of like, one page, and is incredibly abrupt, and I was forced to go, "Christ, James! Hundreds of pages of description to get to this point, and now you're rushing?), but they both recognize, ruefully, the fact that they've been spoiled for each other, to some extent, by their mutual machinations.

Blah. The real problem with James is that, on some level, you have to recognize the guy as a talented writer, but he's just agony to have to actually read. He clearly knows the craft and has a beautiful command of language, but when he puts it all together to tell a story, it's like it never goes anywhere. (Not to mention his 19th-century need to make everything a cautionary tale. God, that gets old.) So, I don't know; it is, on a literary level, a good novel because of the fact that it's well written and it delves deeply into the psychology of its characters. Personally, I don't like it at all, and I don't think it's one of the best one hundred novels of all time. Also, it's a bit sensationalist, really. It was kind of like reading Danielle Steele. (Ok, I've never actually read Danielle Steele. But it's what I imagine reading Danielle Steele would be like. Only I'm guessing she's less boring and not as talented. The end.)

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