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Henry James's Bostonians are two young women, Olive Chancellor who is plain and severe, and beautiful Verena Terrant, a charismatic speaker. Realizing that Verena's speeches will attract audiences feminism, Olive takes her in and cultivates her talent. Unfortunately, Olive and the movement have a rival for Verena's affection -- Basil Ransom, a conservative Mississippian, who wants Verena to become his wife and dedicate herself to his happiness.
I was disappointed in the superficiality with which James presented the feminist movement. Early feminists were often concerned with the hard lives of working class women, who married young to men who were often abusive, and lived in constant struggle. These women had no birth control and bore large families. Their children who were often sickly. Those who did not die young had to leave school early to support themselves. Women often died in childbirth or were left widowed to support large families.
Verena is portrayed as socially naive. She talks in airy abstractions and never seems to connect with the reality of women's lives. Everyone wants to use her: Olive for the movement, her parents to bring them fame and money, and Basil to prove the feminist movement false.
Henry James's books are always about the upper classes, but the human interactions are interesting enough that this usually doesn't bother me. In The Bostonians, however, James's lack of social consciousness bothered me deeply.
i also found the reading to be stilted and stiff.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
The lady narrating this great novel is reading it as though it is a Peter and Jane book. There is some characterisation but it's not very accurate, all the women sound the same. She over emphasizes certain words which makes the speech wholely unnatural and this, (certainly for me) went a long way to ruining the story and any metaphors or allegories contained within it. Overall it feels as though she had never read the book before making this recording.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful