As a dramatic family quarrel unfolds, the hesitating Fleda is drawn in, yet she remains reluctant to captivate Owen, who seems as attracted to her as she is to him.
In The Spoils of Poynton, Henry James created a work of exquisite ambiguity as three women fight for the allegiance of one weak-willed man.
(P)2009 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
A brilliant reading of a lesser-known, but fascinating tale of love and greed in 19th Century England. Ms. O'Brien has a keen understanding of James's complex style and characters, whom she subtly and distinctly delineates in this excellent recording.
The Spoils of Poynton has an unusual topic for a novel-the obsession with objects. Considering how the love of, and possession of "things" is central to so many people's lives, it is odd that it does not figure more importantly in novels. The theft of "things" and the desire for material wealth provide the subject of a great many novels, but the actual obsessive delectation of one's possessions rarely provides the plot motivation. Maybe it requires a genius like James for such an undertaking. "The Spoils of Poynton" with its heroic battle to save the "Spoils" from the Philistines is wonderfully tragicomic.
James is brilliant. The narrative is provocative and darkly beautiful. Maureen O'Brien breathes life into this classic. I loved it.
I read this for a class in Brit Lit. Simply because it's Henry James, it's not the worst of the bunch. It is rather long winded for the outcome. The psychological portraits seem apt. The legal stuff a tad unbelievable, but probably true. To me it all rests in one idea. Mrs. Gareth's son does not have the kind of adoration a son should have for his mother, so she is being ousted by the despicable woman he wants to marry. The woman Mrs.Gareth wants him to marry is too morally sound to do what must be done to displace the fiance, so much chaos ensues.
The ending is troubling for an absence of explanation. I like a cliffhanger, but I feel there was not enough information in the characters to give me even a guess at the perpetrator of the final act. It's almost as if James threw up his hands in disgust at his characters and took action with his pen to free them from a final decision.
Anyway, it's worth the credit; though it lacks humor, sustained tension and, except for a final action by Owen and a last page event, it also lacks surprise.
This story kept me guessing right up until the final moments...I don't want to give the ending away so won't talk about the content too much beyond saying that it was a real, human, love story - would highly recommend both the narrator and the book.
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