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May 7, 2018


Classic: The Golden Bowl

by N@ncy



  1. 2 marriages – 2 couples = 4 emotional roller coasters.
  2. The Prince’s fate has been sealed at 3 ‘o clock. at lawyers office.
  3. He is trapped in a marriage contract.
  4. “…something of the grimness of a crunched key in the strongest lock…”
  5. I can only cringe reading this omen in ch 1.
  6. #DefinitelyNotComedy”


Theme:   marriage

  1. The golden bowl is a metaphor for marriage. (foto)
  2. The bowl, not really “golden” at all…
  3. but crystal gilded with gold leaf.
  4. It has the superficial appearance of perfection.
  5. Crystal “It doesn’t break, it splits….
  6. Crystal does split, eh?
  7. On lines and by laws of its own.”
  8. Why it has a crack!
    ‘Per Dio, I’m superstitious! (Amerigo)
    A crack is a crack…and an omen’s an omen.
    …afraid for you marriage?’ (Charlotte) (ch 6)


  1. 1% into the book we read Amerigo’s warning to Maggie:
  2. “You see too much
  3. …that’s what may sometime make you difficulties.
  4. When you don’t, at least,…see too little.
  5. 72% into the book  we read…that Maggie discovers
  6. ….that Charlotte and her husband were lovers.
  7. “But surely you always knew they had met.” said Mrs Assingham.
  8. Charlotte: ” I didn’t understand. I knew too little.



  1. This book was about a love triangle:
  2. Amerigo – Maggie (marriage)
  3. Amerigo – Charlotte (affair)
  4. James’ sentences do not flow.
  5. This makes the reading so irritating.
  6. Characters often ramble on and on
  7. …after the essence of the chapter was clear.
  8. Weak point:  overwriting!!
  9. I could not bear reading the paperback filled with
  10. commas, convoluted sentences, repetitions.
  11. This book is long….and seems longer
  12. because it is 8o% descriptions (thoughts) – 20% dialogue.
  13. I decided to switch to the audio book.
  14. Hours of twirling and swirling words and
  15. finally James makes his point:
  16. Amerigo has secrets, Maggie sees him as ‘prize catch’
  17. …and ex-lover Charlotte arrives to attend the wedding.
  18. She uses veiled subtle remarks to spark Amerigo’s affection…again.
  19. This book contains no enchantment or
  20. beautiful metaphors ( …except crystal bowl…that was good).
  21. This book is a classic but James’ writing style
  22. ruins the book for the average reader (me).
  23. I would never recommend it.
  24. Now I have read one Henry James book on
  25. Modern Library’s top 100 novels list
  26. ...I am NOT going to read two more!
  27. I’m replacing the other Henry James books with guess who?
  28. Edith Wharton…my favorite!


Last thoughts: 

  • Narrator Simon Prebble is good but the Italian accent
  • for the character Amerigo sounded forced, unnatural and contrived.
  • After 25% of the book.
  • I skimmed the long, trivial descriptions
  • I never would have finished the book without this strategy.
  • Ironically Henry James uses so many words to describe houses,
  • shop’s inventory, parks etc….
  • and barely touches on Maggie’s wedding!
  • 20% into the book  I expected more attention to the marriage ceremony
  • James mentions it in in one sentence!
  • 6 sentences later Mr Verver is visiting his grandson!
  • 31% into the book Mr. Verver’s marriage in one sentence:
  • “…waiting to be rejoined by her (Charlotte) companion.”
  • #Strange
3 Comments Post a comment
  1. omnivourousreaderbookreviews
    May 15 2018

    Ahh yes – this was one I not only did not finish but barely started. It sounded so promising but the experience did not match the description. Well done for finishing it!

    Liked by 1 person


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  1. Classic Club Master List | NancyElin

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