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The Golden Bowl

Henry James

The Golden Bowl, by Henry James - click to see full size image

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The Golden Bowl is a novel by American author Henry James, first published in 1904. With themes of marriage and adultery, it tells the story of Prince Amerigo, a poor Italian nobleman who is in London to marry Maggie Verver, daughter of Adam Verver, a very wealthy art collector. Whilst there, he meets Maggie's childhood friend, Charlotte - but unbeknownst to Maggie, Prince Amerigo and Charlotte already know each other very well. The latter two go wedding shopping and come across the Golden Bowl of the title, but Amerigo doesn't buy it.

After the marriage has taken place, Maggie worries about her widowed father and wishes to set him up with her friend. After a proposal is offered by Adam and accepted by Charlotte, they too marry. However, Maggie and her father seem more interested in their own father-daughter relationship, and with their spouses often thrown together, Amerigo and Charlotte eventually start having an affair. Maggie, already suspicious of her husband, happens upon the same shop with the Golden Bowl, and buys it. The shopkeeper has overcharged her however, and visits her home to confess. While he is there, he sees a photo of the married couple and recognises Amerigo as the man who previously came into his shop. He tells Maggie about the intimate conversation Amerigo and Charlotte had, and Maggie sets in motion a plan to save her own marriage as well as her fathers.

The title of the book is taken from Ecclesiastes 12: "Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity."

№ 36 in The Guardian's 100 Best Novels Written In English.

This book has 351 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1904.

Production notes: This e-book of The Golden Bowl was published by Global Grey on the 17th June 2019.

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