Washington Square by Henry James


Audiobook.  What a grim story this is.  Dr. Sloper loses his beloved young son and wife and is left with a daughter, Catherine, whom he regards as dull and unattractive.  When an adventurer takes her up in hopes of having her considerable inheritance, the doctor says he will disinherit her if she marries him.  She has money enough to be comfortable, left to her by her mother, but the bulk of her inheritance is threatened.  Her great desire to please her father (stronger than her interest in his fortune) is overcome by the attractiveness of the bounder Morris Townsend.  She agrees to travel with her father before marrying Morris, and during the year they are gone, Morris believes she will bring her father around.  Of course she doesn't and Morris breaks it off when he realizes that.  In the 20 years that elapses the father asks Catherine to promise she will not marry Morris after he dies.  When she refuses out of pride, he disinherits her.  Morris turns up a few years after her father's death and she turns him away. 

The characters in this book are coldly unpleasant and amazingly stubborn as well.  Dr. Sloper is so ugly, it's hard to think he is acting in the interest of his daughter.   Somehow I found enough truth and good writing in the midst of this ugliness to find Washington Square engaging.  

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