I feel like a grown up. I’m reading The Bostonians by Henry James.
I wish I had kept track of how many pages have no break for a new
paragraph! I wish I had kept track of the words I really mean to look up.
I haven’t, and halfway through I’m not going to start now.
I don’t care for Henry James’ writing. I’ve read The Turn of the Screw
(in 1964) and Daisy Miller TWICE. I don’t get his drift. I don’t follow
his threads of plot. Are there some? But, nevertheless, I saw this cozy
old copy of The Bostonians in the used book store—a Modern Library
edition–good cover, hm?–and put it on my summer reading list.
Yes, I know it’s October—but I’m determined. And this James might
be more palatable than others. We–you and I–have three main
characters. There is Olive Chancellor—a Bostonian who is fired up
about women’s suffrage issues. And Basil Ransom, her distant cousin
from Mississippi–complete with his drawl and southern gallantry.
And Verena Tarrant, a young snip of a redhead who is a gifted speaker,
thanks to her upbringing by a shifty mesmerizing con man who purports
to change people’s lives—with the help of some silver crossing his palms.
Olive sees a golden goose in Verena—a speaker who can turns people’s
heads and make the cause a successful one. She uses her coercive wiles
to bring Verena under her tent.
Looks like it’s working, too and they’ve just come back from a trip to
Europe—this to divert Verena’s attractions to the young men pursuing
her who, Olive fears, might propose marriage–and THEN where would
Olive’s protege spend her energies?
Olive has persuaded Verena to live with her in her home and is training
her, educating her, looks like a sure thing that V will be Olive’s faithful
Then I turn to Part Two of the book and Basil Ransom re-enters the
story—and I personally think he has designs on Verena himself.
Trouble is, I have to put the book down for a week while I read the
book club selection for next week–In the Garden of Beasts by Erik
Larson. So I’ll leave Olive, Verena and Basil sitting on the night table
stewing. Please hold my place.