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When timid and plain Catherine Sloper acquires a dashing and determined suitor, her father, convinced that the young man is nothing more than a fortune-hunter, decides to put a stop to their romance. Torn between her desire to win her father's love and approval and her passion for the first man who has ever declared his love for her, Catherine faces an agonising dilemma, and becomes all too aware of the restrictions that others seek to place on her freedom. James's masterly novel deftly interweaves the public and private faces of nineteenth-century New York society; it is also a deeply moving study of innocence destroyed.
lengthen, and the wearers to disperse and settle themselves in life. The elder children were older than Catherine, and the boys were sent to college or placed in counting-rooms. Of the girls, one married very punctually, and the other as punctually became engaged. It was to celebrate this latter event that Mrs. Almond gave the little party I have mentioned. Her daughter was to marry a stout young stockbroker, a boy of twenty; it was thought a very good thing. IV Mrs. Penniman, with more
said he is ready to marry you any day, in spite of everything.’ Catherine made no answer to this, and Mrs. Penniman almost lost patience again; owing to which she at last volunteered the information that Morris looked very handsome, but terribly haggard. ‘Did he seem sad?’ asked her niece. ‘He was dark under the eyes,’ said Mrs. Penniman. ‘So different from when I first saw him; though I am not sure that if I had seen him in this condition the first time, I should not have been even more
harmonious accompaniments of darkness and storm. A quiet Sunday afternoon appeared an inadequate setting for it; and, indeed, Mrs. Penniman was quite out of humour with the conditions of the time, which passed very slowly as she sat in the front-parlour, in her bonnet and her cashmere shawl, awaiting Catherine’s return. This event at last took place. She saw her – at the window – mount the steps, and she went to await her in the hall, where she pounced upon her as soon as she had entered the
Catherine’s door. Catherine came and opened it; she was apparently very quiet. ‘I only want to give you a little word of advice,’ she said. ‘If your father asks you, say that everything is going on.’ Catherine stood there, with her hand on the knob, looking at her aunt, but not asking her to come in. ‘Do you think he will ask me?’ ‘I am sure he will. He asked me just now, on our way home from your Aunt Elizabeth’s. I explained the whole thing to your Aunt Elizabeth. I said to your father I
he wishes to speak to you; it is a fixed idea with him – he is always thinking of it. He has something very important to say to you. He believes that you never understood him – that you never judged him rightly, and the belief has always weighed upon him terribly. He wishes to justify himself; he believes that in a very few words he could do so. He wishes to meet you as a friend.’ Catherine listened to this wonderful speech, without pausing in her work; she had now had several days to accustom