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Extended Audio Sample The Wings of the Dove Audiobook, by Henry James Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (12,508 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Henry James Narrator: Justine Eyre Publisher: Tantor Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2010 ISBN: 9781400189809
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Beautiful Kate Croy may have been left penniless by her relatives, but her bold, ambitious nature ensures she will not succumb meekly to a life of poverty. If the financial circumstances of Merton Densher, the man she is passionately in love with, are not sufficient to secure her future, perhaps her cunning will.

So when Milly Theale arrives in Europe from America, laden with wealth but also gravely ill, Kate sees an opportunity to exploit Milly’s vulnerability and devises a plan that will see herself and Merton financially provided for. Her scheming is flawed, though, for it fails to take into account the inconstancies of the human heart.

First published in 1902, this rich and intriguing novel has lost none of its fascination and relevance.

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Quotes & Awards

  • An Electric Literature selection of 9 toxic friendships in literature

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lee | 2/18/2014

    " I can't kid myself any longer. I'm unlikely to wake up tomorrow any better equipped to work through this tedium, PhD in literature notwithstanding. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathryn | 2/1/2014

    " I must first report that this is the type of book that you finish and feel a sense of accomplishment. I had attempted to read this book once before about 8 months ago and after about 50 pages, gave it up, promising that I would read it someday. It is not a light read that you pick up when you only have a few minutes to delve in; nor is it one that you read when there are distractions around. It is dense. It's density comes not necessarily from the plot, characterization, or themes and ideas expressed, rather from James's style. This book is comprised of what seems to be the stream of consciousness style of writing where thoughts are long and winding. It is common for a thought to be interrupted by side details and descriptions and then returned to. Thus as the reader I frequently had to will myself to come back and focus. Paragraphs often go longer than just one page providing you with little chance to stop and regroup. I found myself having to re-read pages two or three times to figure out what was the super important thing James was even trying to get at. Thus while his style causes problems for the reader (or at least for me) it is also his strength as it is uniquely him. The story had a little of the Cruel Intentions vibe (although that movie is based off of Dangerous Liaisons) in that certain characters while maintaining the appearance of being moral and good are working together against the true goodness and innocence that is Milly Theale. The book exudes strong statements about innocence (and the needed protection of it) and the difference between actual goodness and the appearance of it. Milly Theale is goodness through and through (though somewhat irritating to me, I dunno why). Merton Densher is the character who appears to be in crisis and cannot commit to be wholly bad and submissive to the woman he loves, nor can he be wholly good and earn her scorn. At last there is Kate Croy who at once is a victim of her circumstances and yet the masterful manipulator of them. All this to say that this is a book that everyone probably should read because James is a masterful writer, but everyone probably won't read because of the slow moving plot and his verbose style. I doubt I would ever exude the effort to re-read this book. Thus I really felt like I couldn't give this more than three stars, if only it were possible to give half a star. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Heidi | 1/17/2014

    " I think I would have really loved this if it wasn't written by Henry James. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tracy | 1/10/2014

    " I complained about how dense James's writing is the whole time I was reading this, but when I finished it, I thought, "I want to read more by him!" He's a master of social observation, and personal introspection. Wow. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 J. J. Arias | 1/7/2014

    " I feel like I've just run a marathon. James has good qualities, many of which I probably can't appreciate. There are some really beautiful and profound sentences. However, as a communicator he has some issues, in my opinion. I suspect his complex sentence structure is self-indulgent and perhaps an affectation. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Nina Evison | 12/30/2013

    " Ugh. Couldn't get into it. Much too dense and flowery. Beware! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ema | 12/18/2013

    " Henry James' writing style is particularly painful in this one. I almost gave up because all those pronouns and endless sentences had me completely lost. Just once in a while I would get a snatch of meaning and so I managed to string those along to understand the broad strokes of the story. The story is psychologically descriptive to an extreme and I wish I could've at least undestood more of what James was trying to depict. What is amazing, though, is that despite being lost in a fog of words for at least 75% of the book, the ending still managed to seem inevitable and tragic. Phew, thank god I finished it; I don't think I'll ever attempt this one again! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Daniel | 12/14/2013

    " I put it down at 43%. His writing is perfectly understandable, especially if you let it stream into your consciousness without stopping to wonder what is exactly meant by each phrase. Your first thought is probably correct most of the time so best to simply power through (more like Proust than Shakespeare that is). The story didn't hold my interest and I didn't identify with any of the characters. Maybe a course on James would change my mind, but without historical or literary context this work on its own is uninteresting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Aileen | 12/12/2013

    " I have the penguin edition of this, but my cover is different, so it isn't precisely the same edition. Skip the notes! They give away some important plot points. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Chrystie | 12/3/2013

    " I had a really hard time getting into this book, and had a harder time convincing myself to finish it. I picked up and finished a few other books at the same time, so it was just that I couldn't get into the language. The story was ok. I just thought that it wasn't as engaging as it could have been. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elaine | 11/8/2013

    " If you want to read a novel that will never leave you, read The Wings of the Dove. Kate is the most perfectly drawn character I know and the moral question at the center of this book is the lasting human riddle: what will we do to get what we want? "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Keri Daskam | 10/7/2013

    " This book was great in merit but poor in enjoy-ability. The intensive literary devices were brilliant but torturous. I loved, loved, loved the last 50 pages. I loved the setting, particularly in Venice. However, this was probably my least favorite Henry James to date. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lydia Willsky | 9/12/2013

    " Gotta love that period high drama "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 jackpaperwhite | 5/15/2013

    " so long but worth it, if only to have a broader perspective than the movie adaptation. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle Cox | 3/9/2013

    " Not my favorite Henry James. Very wordy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carrie | 3/8/2013

    " A master at work. Love Henry James. Relevant, even now. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patrick | 9/3/2012

    " Too many words, too few silences. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laura | 8/17/2012

    " Long-winded, constipated book turned into a lush, sensual, heartbreaking movie. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mind Bird | 4/4/2012

    " This is the most beautifully written book in the world. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Thomas | 2/16/2012

    " The most sentimental of James's late novels. It provides a good example of why villains are so much more colorful than heroes and heroines. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Andrea | 10/28/2011

    " I loved the story, but I had a strenuous time getting through it. There is not that much dialogue and I find it hard to follow shuch a long book with that is mainly narrative. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Alia Makki | 9/13/2011

    " All the arguments you could have ended with a punch, but didn't. Goddamn Victorians. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kim | 5/21/2011

    " Don't be afraid to put in the time and effort it takes to fully appreciate this incredibly dazzling work filled with symbolism, enigmatic dialogue, and layer-upon-layer of meaning. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Allison | 4/4/2011

    " if i could have given more stars, i would have "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Joanna | 2/4/2011

    " I've tried several times and couldn't get through it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Helen | 1/31/2011

    " Am I turning into a Henry James fan? :-/ "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kelley | 1/31/2011

    " Why is most of James's work so depressing? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 1/25/2011

    " I enjoyed the story. I have to admit, however, that the writing didn't speak to me as I am sure it did to some members of my book group! Maybe I am just too busy right now, but I ended up skimming many of the passages. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ellie | 1/2/2011

    " My favorite Henry James' work. Especially the last line... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jen | 12/22/2010

    " I didn't really feel empathy/sympathy/connection with any of the characters, and didn't know what was going on until the end. maybe I should read it again. but some of the words were beautiful and witty. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 12/13/2010

    " All I can say is this contains some of the finest writing and use of languege that I've read in a long time. "

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About the Author
Author Henry James

Henry James (1843–1916), American novelist, short-story writer, and man of letters, was born in Washington Place, New York, to a family of distinguished philosophers and theologians. He attended schools in New York, Boston, and throughout Europe, where he later settled. A major figure in the history of the novel, he is celebrated as a master craftsman who brought his great art and impeccable technique to bear in the development of abiding moral themes.

About the Narrator

Justine Eyre is a classically trained actress who has narrated dozens of audiobooks and has a prestigious Audie Award and seven AudioFile Earphones Awards under her belt. Eyre is multilingual and known for her great facility with accents. She has appeared on stage, with leading roles in King Lear and The Crucible, and has had starring roles in four films on the indie circuit. Her television credits include Two and a Half Men and Mad Men.