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The Awkward Age

Henry James

Book Overview: 

Nanda Brookenham is coming of age, and thus 'coming out' in London society - which leads to complications in her family's social set in London's fin de siècle life. James presents the novel almost entirely in dialogue, an experiment that adds to the immediacy of the scenes but also creates serious ambiguities about characters and their motives.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Why, when I ask you about your other child you're off like a frightened fawn. When have you ever, on my doing so, said 'my darling Mitchy, I'll ring for her to be asked to come down so that you can see her for yourself'—when have you ever said anything like that?"

"I see," Mrs. Brookenham mused; "you think I sacrifice her. You're very interesting among you all, and I've certainly a delightful circle. The Duchess has just been letting me have it most remarkably hot, and as she's presently coming back you'll be able to join forces with her."

Mitchy looked a little at a loss. "On the subject of your sacrifice—"

"Of my innocent and helpless, yet somehow at the same time, as a consequence of my cynicism, dreadfully damaged and depraved daughter." She took in for an instant the slight bewilderment against which, as a result of her speech, even so expert an intelligence as Mr. Mitchett's had not been proof; then with a small jerk of he. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Scene One

My old mate Henry James will rescue me from this blizzard of unlovable novels I have been trudging through – now, where did I get up to? What were the last ones I read by The Master? Ah yes –

The Spoils of Poynton (1897) – classic stuff
What Maisie Knew (1898) – brilliant
The Turn of the Screw

She remained alone for ten minutes, at the end of which her reflections – they would have been seen to be deep – were interrupted by the entrance of her husband. The interruption was indeed not so great as if the couple had not met, as they almost invariably met, in silence: she took, at all events

Ok ok 4 stars because I’m too chicken to give Henry 3 (or, whisper it, 2). My rationale is any book which makes me think must be worth something.

I’m still puzzling it out. I’ll have to read the last few chapters again. Very near the end, there is a chapter where all the characters repeatedly comment

This novel marks yet one more qualitative shift upward in James's art. There is so much going on in this novel that it is really impossible to usefully describe in a review format like this (and ironically this novel began as an idea for a short story!). Suffice it to say, this is a deceptively diff

Henry James loosens the corset of convention in a comedy
of ambiguous desires and ambitions. Plenty of matrimonial
talk goes round in discreet, repetitive circles; the tenor is
always tender. A vivid worldling of 'a certain age' (41) ponders her daughter's future while manipulating a boring husby, prot

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