“Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
“..she was very particular about the appearance of her linen”
“it (i.e. the step) had an inquisitive, experimental quality which suggested that it would not stop short of the threshold of the office”
I completely understand why things like the above will read as pompous, self-indulgent, elitist verbalism to many people, because usually I am one of these people. But this time, I don’t know… so perfect was the choice of words, so dense and to the point was the prose throughout and so effective the task of character development, that I admit I am too overwhelmed to react negatively.
And that’s exactly how it was with the main character too; Isabel Archer. I found that exploring her personality was a lot more interesting as a process than the protagonist herself, who read annoying and at times even irritating. Still, James’s portrayal of Isabel Archer is of outstanding architecture and does marvellously depict her progression from a free-spirited, optimistic and ambitious young girl to a mature woman who has experienced excitement, compromise and disappointment and adjusted herself to social convention.
[Aaargh.. What is this? Has own belief system suffered sudden and major hit?]
...I suppose what I am trying to say is I really really want to cry out “Henry James, you arrogant, snobbish bastard” and exorcise The Elitism, but in all honesty, it doesn't feel right; not when one is so remarkably capable of creating beauty at the drop of a hat, or so he makes it seem to the reader (which, suffice to say, is already an envious quality).
...Hmm, not that an elitist author would care about any of that anyway.
... Actually, this is starting to look like a trap (the catch-22isnesses just won't go away; I accept it’s due to my overanalysing nature).
So, to cut what can turn out to be a ridiculously long story short, this is what I decided to say to thee, instead:
“Henry James, I give up; you win!”