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The Spoils of Poynton (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 11 Sep 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; Reissue edition (11 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199552487
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199552481
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 2 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 89,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Format: Paperback
In the introduction the editor says that in an age of telephones, let alone texts, much of the problems the characters face could be dealt with more easily. In a similar way this is one of the last novels that were written before Freud sexualised these relations. Although nominally about treasure it is really about the argument between a mother and her son about whom he should marry, with a misguided innocent girl caught in the middle. Although not spoken of in these terms all the characters are concerned with sex even though they do not know it. Whilst reading it I amused myself by transporting the characters to the modern day and wondered how they would react.

In my view only a good novel can provoke one in this way. Another way of looking at it, is to imagine these characters and this story being the backstory for one of E M Forster's Edwardian novels. The story is elemental enough for one of Conrad's novels. It also has the virtue of being comparatively short. It is helpful, I have found to have the critical apparatus of this edition. Well worth reading especially if interested in the way the Victorian world changed into the "modern" world of the Twentieth Century with the ultimate fate of the treasure being in point.
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Format: Paperback
HJ had just suffered a critical battering for his play 'Guy Domville' when he sat down to write this superb book in his diffuse, cloudy, 'later' manner. And theatrical tricks abound as protagonist Fleda Vetch, whose stage is set by others, is unable to act decisively to land prize catch Owen Gereth, a wealthy dimwit, despite the active encouragement of his mother, the redoubtable Mrs Gereth. Retelling the story here is pointless, and you have to say that in modern fiction Owen would have two-timed his fiancee Mona with Fleda, who would've also enjoyed the lesbian relationship she obviously wants with Mrs G, who herself is always pawing her young protogee in an unmistakeably erotic way. Everyone would have been at it as per Fifty Shades of Grey but as this is HJ it's more a case of fifty shades of meaning in each meandering sentence and characters getting their capacious bloomers in a twist when they should be getting them off. If you want an action thriller with chases and explosions, forget it. But if you want an entertaining and, for HJ, a perky little effort that'll keep you guessing as to how it ends (and you won't), here it is.
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By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 18 Nov. 2008
Format: 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.
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