7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Washington Square (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
I must admit that this is one of my all time favourite novels, the first time I ever read it I had to go back and read it all over again. Indeed people who don't normally read James seem to love this little story. This is considered to be the story that ended James' apprenticeship, and even if he had only ever written this he would still be remembered today. James later considered this book with contempt, although no one seems to be sure why. This has always been compared to Jane Austen for its elegance and insight, and when reading it it soon becomes apparent why.
The actual plot is supposedly based on a true story that James was told. Dull Catherine is domineered by her brilliant and astute father, and when she meets a young man she wishes to marry. Catherine's father however denies her her choice and threatens to disinherit her if she marries. Taking her away from her beau they do the 'Grand Tour'. As the years progress we see how her life is lived, and then when her former beau returns on the scene we are held in anticipation of whether they will eventually get married.
James shows here how to spin a story of pure brilliance and elegance, much as he did with 'The Turn of the Screw'. It seems to me absolutely amazing that he didn't like this, but then he was a bit of a snob and perhaps being likened to Austen he felt he was being beliitled, after all he was very derogatory of another brilliant writer, Thomas Hardy. There is only one thing to really say about this book, it is a must read.