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Extended Audio Sample Washington Square Audiobook, by Henry James Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.14 out of 53.14 out of 53.14 out of 53.14 out of 53.14 out of 5 3.14 (29 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Henry James Narrator: Lloyd James Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2006 ISBN: 9781455177967
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On New York City’s Washington Square lives Catherine Sloper, a shy and plain young woman who is tyrannized by her wealthy, overbearing father. When young Morris Townsend begins to court her, Dr. Sloper distrusts his motives, believing that the young man could not possibly love his daughter. Both lovers are obstinate in their affections; but when Dr. Sloper threatens to disinherit Catherine, Townsend disappears, leaving Catherine to humiliation, heartache, and lonely spinsterhood. Years later, after her father’s death, Townsend returns, and Catherine must make up her own mind about his intentions.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Henry James is as solitary in the history of the novel as Shakespeare is in the history of poetry.”

    Graham Greene

  • “Lloyd James gives an excellent reading. His voice is very pleasant and his rendering of the text is subtle and well paced.”

    Kliatt

  • “Every line, every paragraph, every chapter [of Washington Square] is a fleet-footed light brigade, an engine of irony.” 

    Cynthia Ozick, American-Jewish short story writer, novelist, and essayist

  • “Everybody likes Washington Square, even the denigrators of Henry James.”

    Donald Hall

  • “James wrote Washington Square in 1881, six years after his permanent departure from America for Europe. It’s simple on the surface, complex and devastating below: a tale of quiet betrayals and the death of the heart.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Washington Square, a tale of a young woman who is caught between her domineering father and her fortune-hunting suitor, is sensitively read by [Lloyd] James, who offers a compassionate interpretation of the protagonist’s plight.”

    Booklist

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katsumi | 2/19/2014

    " Washinton Square is an engaging story in the fact that it fixes your attention. I was very interested to find out what would become of Catherine Sloper. She is an innocent heroine pursued by a selfish man(Morris Townsend)for her fortune she stands to inherit. Her father is right in his assumption that Morris is a fortunehunter and does all in his power to stop a marriage from taking place. However, his motives are not purely to keep his daughter from unhappiness. They are mainly focused on vanquishing his foe. His daughter discovers that her father cares very little for her and her feelings, and this causes as much pain as realizing that her intended wants only her money. I do not read fiction to view reality, but to escape it. Therefore, I was not satisfied with the ending. I would have liked the ending more if Catherine had realized the true happiness of escaping such an unhappy existence of being married to someone she couldn't respect or trust. Instead she hangs onto her love for Morris even after discovering what he truly is. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ashley | 2/12/2014

    " I read this book for English and while I did not really have to finish it to do my assignment, I thought that I owed it to the book to finish it out and see if it improved. I was really not impressed. I was not a fan of the language, which I felt was very round about and not very forward. I was also not a fan of the characters. Not one of them drew me in and made me want to root for them. The Doctor was cold, Catherine was too shy, Morris too cocky, and the aunt was just too flamboyant... I'm not sure if this book was written like this as a product of the times, or if this was just the authors personal style. Regardless, I will not be keeping this one in my collection after this semester. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Barbara | 2/10/2014

    " No more than a sketch of characters and plot that could have been much more involving. Needs more "Dickens" to punch up characters, especially Aunt Penniman. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kiady | 1/24/2014

    " Washington Square is the story of Catherine Sloper, a naive and young woman who's never had happiness in her life and is always trying to live up to everybody's but mostly her father's expectations.Her father,Dr Sloper has always found her dull and unattractive thus never finds love in his heart for her. When she grows up, he tries to mold her into a social lady but fails to do so because of Catherine's lack of ability to hold decent conversations and act like a normal lady.Things get tense when a young man, Morris Townsend comes in the picture and uses his charm to make Catherine fall in love with him. He intends to marry her and in this way obtain her wealth. Dr Sloper realizes his intends almost inmediatly and prohibits Catherine from seeing or marrying him, saying if she did he would dishenrit her but Catherine as the first act of rebellion against her father, goes to see him. When she explains Morris her father would disinherit her, leaving her with only her mother's wealth, he turns down his marriage offer and gets out of town. Later on in the story, Catherine's father dies, leaving all of his money to Catherine. Morris finds out about this and returns to try to charm Catherine again. However, when he goes to her house he does not find the same Catherine he had left and fails to accomplish his goal. This a sad story though Henry James gives a nice lesson about trying to live up to people's expectations and about expecting too much from people "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bayan | 1/23/2014

    " A synopsis won't do the book justice since it's not merely a story about a plain girl whose overprotective father rejects her lover who doesn't love her but is only after her money. Her father sees that from the beginning and ventures out to prove it. He's ultimately right about his suspicions but blatantly wrong in his way of revealing the truth. He underestimates his daughter and sees her as a dull, weak-minded person, not knowing that he's behind all of that. It's like a self-fulfilling prophecy. He keeps reminding her of her plainness and silence until "poor" Catherine deals with him on this basis. He only uses irony when speaking to her. At the beginning, she deals with it as a sign of smartness then becomes aware that it's meant to ridicule her. She changes her feelings towards her father from adoration to carelessness. Her father's harshness hurts her so much but she's so quiet and deep that she keeps everything within. She's betrayed not only by him but by her love and aunt. Morris is a handsome man who's selfish and idle. He's a free loader and only his sweet mouth helps him be welcomed. He sees in Catherine an easy prey and can be fed upon her inherited money. To tell the truth, it's not as plain since Morris' character is more complicated than that and the moral destruction isn't seen obviously. It's more of a moral puzzle that keeps us interested in reading the book though we already know his true intentions. Catherine's aunt, Mrs Penniman, is one of the most provoking characters in the book. She's very nosy, talkative, and hesitant. "Dangerous" is the best adjective to describe her. She's a wild imagination but little consideration to reality and consequences. Catherine comes to know this and detaches herself from her. At the end of the book, "poor" Catherine is not poor any more and the author calls her "our heroine" to mark her mental and psychological change or growth. Th betrayal, suffering and disappointment make her much stronger. She's loved by the neighbors and children and spends her time doing charity or embroidery. Her sense of redemption gives her satisfaction and peace of mind. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dave | 1/21/2014

    " I've come late to Henry James, and I found much to admire and enjoy in this story, which was involving and intriguing. Strongly drawn characters drive the story almost entirely through their interactions, their strengths and their flaws, with every step seeming to follow inevitably. Not all of the character are fully credible, in particular Dr. Sloper, who comes to be a monster. However, Catherine, with all her flaws, is lovable and admirable, as she learns to make and live with her choices even as she learns of love for the first time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jen | 1/17/2014

    " Read this for year 12 literature. It is marvellously written, but is so depressing. However, it's a very important and harsh critique of the ridiculous restrictions placed on women in the 19th century, and I dearly applaud James for doing so. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauriestearmer | 1/17/2014

    " Read as a result of "Reading Lolita in Tehran". Had never read Henry James. Discovered I like his style and stories! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Devoynne | 12/30/2013

    " very little character development, if any at all. the story never seemed to move. disappointing enough to not finish the last 30 or so pages. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Barb Tracy | 12/13/2013

    " The New YOrk Times recommended this book for its book club, because The Heiress, on Broadway with Jessica Chastain, was opening. I would love to see this play now that I have read the story. Perhaps Chastain can show Catherine's inner life better than the book describes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elena | 10/23/2013

    " Deceptively simple and brief, this novel about an heiress and a fortune-hunter surpassed my expectations. James conveyed with feeling how difficult it was emotionally for Catherine to disobey her father and how much her father had underestimated her as a person. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aubree Bowling | 9/27/2013

    " REALLY enjoyed this--my first foray into Henry James, now I'm jazzed to read all I can get my hands on--plus the big bonus--all his books are free for eReaders on the public domain. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Meghan | 7/1/2013

    " i like this book alot. Unlike the way Jane Austen writes her books, Henry James has a much more modern feel the his writing even though this book is very old. the story was very interesting and i was very content with the ending. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julianne Maguire | 2/9/2013

    " Heard in audio. I really like James and I love tales of old NYC and this is a short one. He really is king of the domestic drama, for sure. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy Casey | 11/10/2012

    " this is permanently on my night stand. i chip away at a story every couple months. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ed | 10/2/2012

    " Good book. Builds to a sad ending. Money. Love. Gold digging. Life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Natalie | 11/4/2011

    " Henry James breathes life into each character in Washington Square. Even poor, dull Catherine's character is redeemed by her quiet obstinence. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephen | 10/19/2011

    " This is a book about an unrealistically dull woman named Catherine and some other people who are mean to her. Most of them live in Washington Square so that's why Henry James chose the title. It would have been better if it was 170 pages shorter. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Guy | 10/16/2011

    " Pretty good, I guess. It's a bit abstruse but still a good story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kelly | 9/17/2011

    " teaches you why it's so important to be confident in yourself without letting others cloud the way you think about, or treat, yourself. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 A.M. | 8/4/2011

    " I am trying to picture New York City as James saw it. Excellent novel. I love James' writing style, and his characters are exquisite. Wonder if Lavinia inspired Chevalier's juvenile Lavinia in Falling Angels. Catherine is quite the heroine. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Peter | 4/23/2011

    " This is a great book to read for folks who have finished all the Jane Austen books and are dying to read more Jane Austen. The humor is more dry and not as punchy, but it is there. Beautiful writing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lewis | 3/29/2011

    " It says a lot about an author when he can dedicate so much time and effort into making fun of his own characters. I don't think I was in a bitter enough mood for this. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sara | 3/23/2011

    " I read the first chapter or more, wasn't impressed. Skipped to the end of the book and felt like I didn't miss much. Not worth my reading time--or maybe I am just uncultured. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 David | 3/18/2011

    " whoa...comic relief and not much else "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lizzy | 3/7/2011

    " The characters are all terribly annoying, but overall the book is good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 2/19/2011

    " Good! Better than re-reading all the Jane Austen novels, I think I will start reading Henry James. Good for anyone who likes novels in which marriage prospects are labeled by their annual income. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda K | 2/10/2011

    " Quite a sad tale of a rich, but very plain girl, with a suitor who wants to marry her for her money and a dad who is adamently against it. So descriptive in character studies. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hom | 2/9/2011

    " Well written but the characters weren't all that sympathetic. A good read nevertheless. "

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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

Lloyd James (a.k.a. Sean Pratt) has been narrating since 1996 and has recorded over six hundred audiobooks. He is a seven-time winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award and has twice been a finalist for the prestigious Audie Award. His critically acclaimed performances include Elvis in the Morning by William F. Buckley Jr. and Searching for Bobby Fischer by Fred Waitzkin, among others.