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The Spoils of Poynton

The Spoils of Poynton by Henry James
By: (1843-1916)

The recently widowed Adela Gereth, a lover of beauty and passionate collector of fine objects, strikes up a friendship with the young Fleda Vetch, when both of them find themselves guests in the tasteless house of the Brigstock family. Mrs. Gereth fears that her son Owen, an honorable but somewhat unimaginative young man, may take up with one of the Brigstock girls, and indeed he presently announces his engagement to Mona, the eldest daughter. That means that Mrs. Gereth will have to leave Poynton, the beautiful house that she and her husband filled with the furniture, china, tapestries, and other objects that they lovingly collected over the years. It is not so much possessiveness that drives Mrs. Gereth to want to maintain control over them (or so she claims, at any rate), but rather the sense that she will have failed if Mona, understanding and appreciating nothing of what Poynton contains, should become Owen's wife and take charge. The story and its developing conflicts are seen largely from the point of view of Fleda Vetch, the young woman who, her moral and aesthetic sensibilities tuned perhaps as finely as any of James's protagonists, finds herself caught in the middle.

First Page:

The Spoils of Poynton

By Henry James


Copyright, 1896, By HENRY JAMES.

All rights reserved.

The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U.S.A. Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Company.



Mrs. Gereth had said she would go with the rest to church, but suddenly it seemed to her that she should not be able to wait even till church time for relief: breakfast, at Waterbath, was a punctual meal, and she had still nearly an hour on her hands. Knowing the church to be near, she prepared in her room for the little rural walk, and on her way down again, passing through corridors and observing imbecilities of decoration, the ├Žsthetic misery of the big commodious house, she felt a return of the tide of last night's irritation, a renewal of everything she could secretly suffer from ugliness and stupidity. Why did she consent to such contacts, why did she so rashly expose herself? She had had, heaven knew, her reasons, but the whole experience was to be sharper than she had feared... Continue reading book >>

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