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The Wings of the Dove | [Henry James]

The Wings of the Dove

Kate Croy is secretly engaged to Merton Denscher, a journalist who lacks money. By chance, Kate befriends Milly, an American heiress, and learns she is suffering from a fatal illness. Kate devises a scheme to maximize their combined assets: she encourages Merton to take an interest in Milly and marry her. Kate intends to make him a rich widower whom she herself can marry. But such well-laid plans are not enough for the subtlety of the heart.
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Publisher's Summary

This classic Henry James morality tale involves a triangle of friends and lovers doomed by overreaching desire and treachery.

In early 20th-century London, Kate Croy is secretly engaged to Merton Denscher, a journalist possessing all the qualities of an ideal husband except money. By chance, Kate befriends American heiress Milly Theale, whom she learns is suffering from a mysterious fatal illness. Kate, who truly cares for Milly, devises a scheme to maximize their combined assets: she encourages Merton to take an interest in Milly, to seduce her, and finally, to marry her. By lending her lover to brighten Milly's few remaining days, Kate intends to make him a rich widower whom she herself can marry. But such well-laid plans are not enough for the subtlety of the heart.

(P)1998 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

"James did nothing like an Englishman - or an American. He was a great fact in himself, a new world, a terra incognita that he would devote all his days to mapping for the rest of us....James was the master of the novel in English in a way that no one had ever been before; or has ever been since." (Gore Vidal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (47 )
5 star
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3.6 (23 )
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3.5 (22 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Alain santa Fe, NM, United States 07-06-07
    Alain santa Fe, NM, United States 07-06-07 Member Since 2005

    professor. like great and VERY good books, fiction and history, mainly

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wings!"

    Henry James is the man. This masterpiece can be read and listened to again and again -- it is never the same -- it changes and grows as we do. Great to have a new recording. What a shame that more of James books are not available on Audible.

    17 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    EVERETT New York, NY, United States 12-19-08
    EVERETT New York, NY, United States 12-19-08 Member Since 2004
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    "Late Henry James - a challenge to read/hear"

    Wings of the Dove is a very good story, and I very much liked the way the different lines of plot were woven together. However, the story is long, and with all due respect to this highly revered writer, I felt that the writing rambled a bit. Nadia May is one of my all-time favorite narrators. For this novel, though, she was mildly disappointing. Not all the voices of the characters were distinct. Two of the principal characters are American, while most of the rest are British. Ms May was not able to read the American dialogue consistently with a recognizable American accent.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vered Tel-Aviv, Israel 09-25-08
    Vered Tel-Aviv, Israel 09-25-08 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good book - challenging read/listen"

    The Wings of the Dove is a brilliant book, not just an alltime classic, but i think its' ideas were far ahead of its' time.
    I should say - it is a challenging read and listen - Henry James' writing fashion and condensed syntax is complex and requires patience, but i think it's worth the effort.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Minneapolis, Mongolia 10-06-08
    Jennifer Minneapolis, Mongolia 10-06-08
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    "Great all-around"

    This is the book that got me interested in Henry James. This is not my favorite of his works, but it is wonderful nonetheless. James does romance with depth, humor, intelligence, and a sense of what is true. The narration is very well done; voices are distinct but not caricature. The audio is of good quality as well. If you like James, I would also suggest Edith Warton's works.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kerryn Hampton, Australia 09-21-13
    Kerryn Hampton, Australia 09-21-13 Member Since 2009

    Say something about yourself!

    ratings
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    "Couldn't keep me awake."
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I really wanted to like this book, but I kept falling asleep whilst listening to it and when I played it back it was as if I had never even heard it before. I found it all so forgettable. I am not sure if it was the performance or the story, I suspect it was a little of both. A bit disappointed.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raymond Hillsboro, OR, United States 02-25-13
    Raymond Hillsboro, OR, United States 02-25-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Making Henry James' late novel bearable"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The writing style of this later novel makes it hard to discern the plot, which is actually quite interesting. No help for it but to wade though the sea of words to discover the worth of the novel as a whole. The narrator of the Audible version I listened to made it easier to get through. She did a wonderful job.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I disliked every character in this novel - no exceptions. My least favorite was Martin - for putting up with manipulation from all sides and not standing up for himself until it was too late.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    None in particular, but the lack of actual communication during every conversation described in the novel is astounding. It's almost like a Greek play where your fate is not only inescapable, but you actively contribute to it with your every word and action, whether you are aware of it or not.


    Do you think The Wings of the Dove needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No - in this case, 'enough unsaid.'


    Any additional comments?

    Listened to this book for a book group. We'll find a lot to talk about - but it sure is a slog of a read/listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katelyn el mirage, AZ, USA 05-16-09
    Katelyn el mirage, AZ, USA 05-16-09
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    "Don't bother"

    Yet another example of a book that is so bad it deserves zero stars. It's story is meant to be depressing but the characters are so dull and unrealistic that it is impossible to feel for them. Don't waste your credit on this one, you'll only regret it as I did.

    1 of 9 people found this review helpful
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