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Originally published in 1902 by Scribners, The Wings of the Dove tells the story of Milly Theale, an American heiress suffering from a terminal disease and how those two properties - riches and an imminent demise - influence those who are close to her. The 'close' friends are an unmarried couple, Kate Croy and Merton Densher, the latter a former suitor of Milly, the former a schemer who seeks to obtain some or all of the Theale inheritance. The character of Milly Theale is based on the real life cousin of James, Minny Temple, who died of tuberculosis in 1870. Similarities in the name and in the circumstances make this association plain enough, but James was also happy to admit it, stating that the book was in part an effort to preserve her memory in the way he knew best.
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The Wings of the Dove is a classic example of Henry James's morality tales that play off the naiveté of an American protagonist abroad. In early-20th-century London, Kate Croy and Merton Densher are engaged in a passionate, clandestine love affair. Croy is desperately in love with Densher, who has all the qualities of a potentially excellent husband: he's handsome, witty, and idealistic--the one thing he lacks is money, which ultimately renders him unsuitable as a mate. By chance, Croy befriends a young American heiress, Milly Theale. When Croy discovers that Theale suffers from a mysterious and fatal malady, she hatches a plan that can give all three characters something that they want--at a price. Croy and Densher plan to accompany the young woman to Venice where Densher, according to Croy's design, will seduce the ailing heiress. The two hope that Theale will find love and happiness in her last days and--when she dies--will leave her fortune to Densher, so that he and Croy can live happily ever after. The scheme that at first develops as planned begins to founder when Theale discovers the pair's true motives shortly before her death. Densher struggles with unanticipated feelings of love for his new paramour, and his guilt may obstruct his ability to avail himself of Theale's gift. James deftly navigates the complexities and irony of such moral treachery in this stirring novel.From the Publisher:
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Book Description CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015. Paperback. Condition: Brand New. 198 pages. 11.00x8.50x0.45 inches. This item is printed on demand. Seller Inventory # zk151941708X
Book Description CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M151941708X