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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

Just kidding.

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 Sc...more

I think Henry James must have had some issues with parents as he was growing up. Now I'm not saying that his parents were bad parents or bad people, but he sure has created some truly monstrous parental units in a good bit of his fiction, and the parents and adult guardians in The Awkward Age are...more

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 even...more

O piesa de teatru acest roman, de fapt. Totul este expus prin dialoguri, scenele sunt de interior, cu una sau doua exceptii in care ii surprindem pe participanti intr-o gradina sau in alt decor exterior. Parcurgerea acestei carti presupune ceva efort, multa atentie; daca nu tii pasul cu dialoguri...more

Every so often I feel this urge to read something classic to offset the tawdry "dime-store" novels I'm typically devouring. This time it's a novel by Henry James. This was his last novel before James's "final period" of three very difficult and demanding novels.

This book of manners at the end of...more

I am always amazed how Henry James has an effect on me after I have read one of his stories & this one sure left me feeling quite sad & in awe of his ability to create a story with characters so unique to the times he writes. In almost all his books that I have read thus far, I start out...more

I read this years ago, but rereading it now, I see that I made nothing of it at the time. THIS time, going very carefully, making sure not to get lost in the intricate layers of the dialogue, I found an extraordinary, extraordinarily sad story, whose young heroine's coming of age consists not in...more

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, p...more

The Awkward Age is a truly interesting work of James', from a time when he was very involved with plays. It is a work of prose carefully crafted to read much like a play-script; it has very little narratorial voice and concerns itself mostly with dialogue. This was fascinating for me because, wit...more

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