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I've never been a big fan of Henry James. But when I read (while browsing on Wikipedia!) that "Washington Square" is a James novel for people who don't like James - and saw that it was narrated by Jennifer Ehle, an exceptional actress - I figured OK, why not?
I'm pleased to report that I now know how to pronounce Ehle's name, and from an unimpeachable source: her own voice, introducing the recording. For the record, it rhymes with Feely.
But despite her lively and charming narration, I really didn't connect with the story or the characters. James seems to go out of his way to make his characters unappealing and the story slow and predictable. His heroine, Caroline, is repeatedly described as unattractive and dull; and her father seems to think that letting her twist in the wind (regarding her marriage plans) is an amusing game. The narrative zooms in and out like an accordion, lingering over lovers' meetings and then racing through a year or two - or in one case a decade - with a few paragraphs of the dullest exposition: and then crashes to an abrupt end.
So my conclusion is: Jennifer Ehle is a gem, and Henry James remains (for me) a pill.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Her interpretation added so much to the quality of the experience. One of those rare audio versions that’s even better than reading the words on paper. A wonderful version!