Believe it or not, this was the first novel by Henry James that I have ever read. I won’t say it was the first thing, because I feel like I probably read a short story of his somewhere back in my school days, but as to novels, before this, not even Turn of the Screw.

I enjoyed it greatly, but did not find it to be a particular variety of the nineteenth century novel about artistic types. It was one of his first novels, so I am assuming he was nowhere near the height of his powers. After finishing, I fell into the trap of wondering how his sexuality influenced the novel and characters.

He apparently wrote a later novel about one of the characters, Christina Light. Christina was, to be fair, the most interesting character. The titular Roderick (a young man, taken to Italy by a wealthy benefactor so that he can express his talent as a sculptor) is a selfish, dramatic man-child. His benefactor (and the POV character; the novel is in third person limited), Rowland, is nice to the point of being nearly non-existent. Roderick’s mother and fiancée are, respectively, hysterical and angelic.

But, it all did make me want to go to Italy.