4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Spoils of Poynton (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
First serealised in the Atlantic Journal under the title 'The Old Things' this story has got to be the most continously revised of all James' works by himself. He just couldn't seem to leave this story alone over the years, even though the skeleton of the story is quite simple, this becomes deceptive though when the psychology of the characters is taken into account.
Owen Gereth is in love with Mona Brigstock and they are engaged to be married. Owen's mother, Mrs Gereth has taken a shine to Fleda Vetch though, as they seem to have the same tastes and Fleda does love Owen. Not too many problems there you may think, but things come to a head when Mrs Gereth doesn't want Mona to get her hands on the objects d'art at Poynton, the 'spoils' of the title. The spineless Owen is left in a quandary between his mother and Mona, as she has postponed the wedding until Owen can guarantee that the objects d'art are in their rightful place at Poynton. Owen is passed from pillow to post whilst being pressurized to make a stand one way or the other. Fleda can only really look on at what is happening, and it is indeed through her eyes that we can view the manipulation going on.
Mrs Gereth and Mona Brigstock use the objects d'art to play out their powers over Owen. Indeed these items that they are fighting over we don't know much about, as they are only really hinted at; the only item we can be sure about is a crucifix that would seem to be of some value.
This really is a book that needs to be read more than once to be able to gain the full psychology and intentions of all the characters. Also in part due to its ultimate complexity a simple quick review could never do it justice. If you like James then you should like this tale, but be prepared for a shock ending.