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Washington Square (Signet Classics) by Henry…

Washington Square (Signet Classics) (original 1880; edition 2004)

by Henry James, Michael Cunningham (Afterword)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,725None2,163 (3.74)146
Title:Washington Square (Signet Classics)
Authors:Henry James
Other authors:Michael Cunningham (Afterword)
Info:Signet Classics (2004), Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Book Club, USA

Work details

Washington Square by Henry James (1880)

  1. 20
    Eugénie Grandet by Honoré de Balzac (Sakerfalcon)
    Sakerfalcon: Similar stories of daughters oppressed by overbearing fathers, and what happens when a young suitor enters their lives ...
  2. 00
    The Aspern Papers by Henry James (alalba)
  3. 00
    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (zasmine)
    zasmine: Very well defined characters here too

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English (43)  French (1)  Japanese (1)  All languages (45)
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
I pitied every principal character for their having to eat the fruit of who they were; I never grew to like them. Strangely, I pitied John Ludlow the most--for his passion being given no chance. ( )
  NadineC.Keels | Apr 10, 2014 |
The book was an old fashioned melodrama story but I didn't find it that interesting or intriguing.
  RebecaGeorgiev | Oct 1, 2013 |
The happening is quite an ordinary one, nothing too grand, or incredible. The female protagonist, Catherine, is one of the dullest creatures I've ever encountered in literature (and real life, for that matter). The book is not riddled with melodramatic expressions, or epic gestures.
Despite all that (or because, I've yet to decide), it is one of the more compelling books I have ever read.

I adore Henry James' irony, that is most apparent in this book. I love his hopelessly flawed characters. I love his writing style.

I also find it interesting that while compiling his work, Henry James excluded the book because he didn't like it. I have an affinity to the works the artists themselves despised.

As of the time of writing this review, I've yet to read any other of Henry James' works, so I cannot draw any kind of comparison or general opinion non him as an author (other than adoring what he did with Washington Square). I have also yet to read the afterward by Michael Cunningham, will do so after I've read the book a second time. ( )
  AdvaKramer | Sep 25, 2013 |
So frustrating--I kept waiting for Catherine to DTMFA but unfortunately she predates Dan Savage by about a century. ( )
1 vote amelish | Sep 12, 2013 |
Catherine is a young woman living in New York City with her father in the 19th century. She is a plain sweet girl who has had a cold upbringing. After her mother died in childbirth her father never recovered. He married out of love and her death broke his spirit forever. The result was a distant parent who treated Catherine with a mild objective interest at best.

As Catherine grows older she begins to attend parties and at one she meets the charming Morris Townsend. His immediate interest in her and his passionate attitude sweeps her off her feet. Her father, Dr. Sloper, forbids the match, believing Morris to be interested in her only for her money.

The novel is an opera of subtlety. In the first half we aren’t sure of Morris’ true intentions. We aren’t sure of the depth of Catherine’s feelings and we aren’t sure if her father’s suspicions are justified or if they’re a product of his controlling nature. There’s never a big reveal, just a series of quiet scenes that reveal the individuals’ true character.

Dr. Sloper’s sister, Mrs. Lavinia Penniman (a widow), lives with them and creates a strange dynamic. She thrives on drama and she pushes her own romantic notions on both Morris and Catherine, tainting Catherine’s judgment and unnecessarily pushing herself into the middle of their courtship.

For me, the most interesting aspect of the book is Catherine’s nature and her evolution throughout the story. She kept her emotions tucked deep inside her, showing little of how she truly felt. As she matures and the plot unfolds she continues to stand strong. The suspense comes from inaction, a slow burn towards two potential outcomes. Catherine changes slowly; she begins to take pride in her obstinacy and finds the courage to stand up to her father. By the end of the book she may be living a lonely life, but she has found the strength to resist Morris.

The moment when Morris’ sister tells Catherine’s father not to let her marry her brother is a turning point. That’s the moment we truly begin to suspect Morris for being the shallow selfish man he is.

As we get to know her father, even if he is dismissive and condescending to her, I felt like he really did have her best interests at heart. He became so callous towards the world after his wife died that he didn’t understand how to be compassionate anymore. He whisks her off to tour Europe for months in a vain effort to make her forget him.

BOTTOM LINE: I liked this one more than I thought I would. There’s no major action, but watching Catherine slowly grow strong under the circumstances was beautifully done.

“He walked under the weight of this very private censure for the rest of his days, and bore forever the scars of a castigation to which the strongest hand he knew had treated him on the night that followed his wife's death.”

“…it seemed to her that a mask had suddenly fallen from his face.” ( )
  bookworm12 | Sep 4, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (47 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Henry Jamesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Arbonès, JordiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Auchincloss, LouisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Balseiro, María LuisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bonnafont, ClaudeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hall, DonaldAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heesen, Martha,Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
James, LloydNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ozick, CynthiaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Poole, AdrianEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Lawrence BeallIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Van Doren, MarkIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
During a portion of the first half of the present century, and more
particularly during the latter part of it, there flourished and
practised in the city of New York a physician who enjoyed perhaps an
exceptional share of the consideration which, in the United States,
has always been bestowed upon distinguished members of the medical
The years have passed very quietly.
She liked to wait, it intensified the situation.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the main work for Washington Square by Henry James. It should not be combined with any adaptation, abridgement, etc.
Publisher's editors
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Wikipedia in English


Book description
Conflict relationships. The heroine's naivete against the heartless ambition and hypocrisy of her suitor and the ruthlessness of her father. He is wise and knows what her suitor is after but his way of dealing with his daughter is heartless.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140432264, Paperback)

Washington Square (1881), by Henry James, tells the story of Catherine Sloper, the plain, obedient daughter of the widowed, well-to-do Dr. August Sloper of Washington Square. When a handsome, feckless man-about-town proposes to Catherine, her father forbids the marriage because he believes the man to be after Catherine's fortune and future inheritance. The conflict between father, daughter, and suitor provokes consequences in the lives of all three that make this story one of James's most piercingly memorable.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:13 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

In the Washington Square area of New York City in the late nineteenth century, devastating betrayals by both her father and her lover leave shy and fragile Catherine Sloper permanently scarred.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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Average: (3.74)
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2 28
2.5 7
3 120
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Eight editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Three editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141441364, 0141194979, 0141389494

The Library of America

An edition of this book was published by The Library of America.

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Urban Romantics

An edition of this book was published by Urban Romantics.

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