So, my original post about making the book jar (as a craft project to de-stress when my laptop died) was a surprise hit and seems to have inspired a few others to make their own. Which makes me rather giddy with glee, I’m loving see what others do with the idea. :)
Now that book jar’s made though, with each coloured bit of card folded up in there representing a book I want to read or think would be good for keeping my reading diverse, it’s time to draw the first title out of the jar.
Blurb for The Wings of the Dove by Henry James:
Emerging from the grit and stigma of poverty to a life of fairytale privilege under the wing of her aunt, the beautiful and financially ambitious Kate Croy is already romantically involved with promising journalist Merton Densher when they become acquainted with Milly Theale, a New York socialite of immense wealth. Learning of Milly’s mortal illness and passionate attraction to Densher, Kate sets the scene for a romantic betrayal intended to secure her lasting financial security. As the dying Milly retreats within the carnival splendour of a Venetian palazzo, becoming the frail hub of a predatory circle of fortune-seekers, James unfolds a resonant, brooding tale of doomed passion, betrayal, human resilience and remorse.
Oh dear. Time to test my good intentions.
I’m going to state for the record that right now I am not a James fan. I put this title in the jar because I knew it would be a good stretch of a book for me, pushing me out of my comfort zone, grappling with an author I’ve found difficult previously. I just didn’t expect to pull this one out of the jar first!
I have actually read The Wings of the Dove before but it was a poor reading attempt – intercut with watching the Helena Bonham-Carter film adaptation and reading multiple other books. I put it down so many times because I just couldn’t find its rhythm and it was high summer, I wanted a book I could read in the park with pink lemonade and drift away with. This really didn’t fit that bill very well.
I remember that James uses *a lot* of commas and likes his language ornate but I lost sight of the book as a whole because of the disjointed way I read it.
Still, the mighty book jar has spoken and I am interested to see where using the jar takes me, the challenge it offers me.
It’s been a decade since I’ve read any of James’ work and in that time I’ve read plenty of essays on literature and literary criticism as well as a decent amount of fiction by James’ contemporaries. I’m probably not going to become a fan by the end of this re-reading but I know I’m going to get a lot more out of this re-reading than I did from my first attempt.
At the weekend I bought a cheap secondhand copy of the book and this weekend, once I’ve finished my current read, I’ll dive in. Wish me luck!