The Golden Bowl

Author: Henry James

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The Golden Bowl is a novel published in 1904; it tells the story of an American millionaire and his daughter, whose respective partners have been lovers before marrying them, and who become lovers again afterwards.

Maggie Verver and her widowed father, Adam, are two Americans living in London, engaged in the life of refined leisure afforded by Adam's immense fortune. Maggie returns to meet her friend Charlotte, beautiful and cultured, but penniless, and through some friends, the Assingham couple, she meets Amerigo, an Italian prince of noble ancestry but also without means of subsistence.

Father and daughter decide to remarry, and their respective partners will be the young Charlotte and Prince Amerigo, unaware that both have been lovers in the past.

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A London Life and Other Tales

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A London Life is a novella first published in 1888. Its plot revolves around a marriage that falls apart and the impact this has on those close to it. The story is notable for its straightforward approach to divorce, in which the reality of a marital breakdown is dealt with bluntly.

We have Laura Wing visiting her sister Selina who is divorcing her rude husband Lionel. It should be noted that Selina had an affair with a man named Charlie Crispin, which caused her to receive criticism from her sister. For her part, Lady Davenant, an elderly family friend, advises Laura not to get involved in her sister's marital problems, providing a much-needed dose of common sense.

The other stories included in A London Life and Other Tales are: The Patagonia, The Liar and Mrs. Temperly.

An International Episode

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An International Episode was published in 1878, its story is about two young men Lord Lambeth and Percy Beaumont who visit the United States from London. During their stay, they become fond of American society, which is kind, friendly and hospitable, and meet Mrs. Wesgate and her sister Bessie Alden, who return their visit the following year in London.

Bessie becomes fascinated by Lord Lambeth and tries to inquire about his title, relations and possessions. Moreover, being set in both Massachusetts and Britain and featuring both American and British characters, it gives rise to some confrontations as the characters experience the clash of the two cultures, which although closely related are ultimately very different.

Romantic intrigue, communication problems and cultural blunders abound in this short novel, so if you're looking for an entertaining read don't hesitate to give it a chance.

Confidence

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Confidence is a novel first published as a serial in Scribner's Monthly in 1879 and then as a book later that year.

This light and somewhat awkward comedy centers on artist Bernard Longueville, scientist Gordon Wright, and the sometimes inscrutable heroine Angela Vivian. The plot meanders through several romantic entanglements before arriving at an uncomplicated but believable happy ending.

While sketching in Siena, Bernard Longueville meets Angela Vivian and her mother. Later, Gordon Wright, Bernard's friend and self-proclaimed "mad" scientist, calls Longueville to Baden-Baden to judge whether he should marry Angela. Bernard advises against it, based on his belief that Angela is a mysterious flirt.

These events provoke a chance meeting years later, which changes the story and its ending somewhat.

Daisy Miller

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Daisy Miller is a novel written in 1878, in which Miss Annie P. Miller appears in Vevey, Switzerland, with her mother and brother. Her father, an opulent and uncouth nouveau riche, wants to polish and Europeanize her.

Daisy, as she is called, meets a refined young American named Winterbourne, who takes an interest in her, puzzled by her casualness and flirtatious lack of tact.

They meet again in Rome and he tries to correct Daisy's behavior, especially when she begins to flirt publicly with a lower-class Italian named Giovanelli. This leads to her being ostracized by the American colony in Rome.

Daisy dies of fevers contracted in the middle of a Roman night alone with Giovanelli, and her last words were a message to Winterbourne: "Tell him I never promised myself to Giovanelli," as an almost posthumous invitation to a long afterlife courtship.

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Embarrassments is a collection of 4 short stories from 1896, each dealing with a certain type of embarrassment. In The Figure in the Carpet, a frustrated literary critic is obsessed with learning an author's writing secret, as he claims there is a mystery to be found in his books.

In Glasses, a beautiful, naive woman tries to hide the fact that she needs glasses, so she sacrifices her sight for a chance at marriage. The Way It Came is a ghost story, in which a man and a woman with much in common never seem to be able to meet, but after many years they finally do.

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