This would be on my list of ten greatest novels ever written -- or at least in my personal universe.
James is the master of moral ambiguity, which he brings to his most painful and cruel apex in this novel.
There's too much to say about it to fit into a little amazon review, but one of the things I most love about
it is that the reader is left no comfortable place to "stand." James leaves us no character with whom we can
fully identify and not question what that says about us. IF the theme of this story had to be summed up
in a capsule (an idea which James, of course, would ridicule), it might be that no moral failure happens
in a vacuum, and that individual people determine more of each others' characters than they perhaps intend to. And,
as Lionel Trilling always taught his students, "follow the money."
It's possible that the novel as a form got as perfect as it's ever going to get with James, and that this is his best,
so if you care about novels, you want to read this one more than once, and to live with it, and to let it