The Wings of the Dove (Signet Classics)

James, Henry

Published by Signet Classics, 1999
ISBN 10: 0451527283 / ISBN 13: 9780451527288
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Synopsis: An angel with a robust bank account

Milly Theale, an American heiress in London, is young, hungry for life, and terminally ill. There she meets the dazzling beauty Kate Croy and reunites with an old acquaintence, Merton Densher. Unbeknownst to Milly, Kate is madly in love with Merton, a young journalist who has everything a woman like Kate could want—except money.

Intensely aware of her new friend’s fate and coveting her fortune, Kate secretly spurs Merton to seduce and marry Milly in order to inherit her wealth. But when Milly discovers their scheme, Kate and Merton learn that deceit can have unforeseen consequences....

 

Review: 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.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Wings of the Dove (Signet Classics)
Publisher: Signet Classics
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
Book Condition: Very Good

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