to me again she made it clear that she hoped I would "do mamma justice." She added that she didn't think this had ever been done. She said to her brother: "Don't you think there are some things he ought thoroughly to understand?" and on his instantly exclaiming "Oh, thoroughly--thoroughly!" she went on, rather austerely: "I mean about mamma's birth."
"Yes, and her connections," Leolin added.
I professed every willingness, and for five minutes I listened, but it would be too much to say that I understood. I don't even now, but it is not important. My vision was of other matters than those they put before me, and while they desired there should be no mistake about their ancestors I became more and more lucid about themselves. I got away as soon as possible, and walked home through the great dusky, empty London--the best of all conditions for thought. By the time I reached my door my little article was practically composed-- ready to be transferred on the morrow from the polished plate of fancy. I
If you are a fan of James's dense yet wordy descriptive prose, you'll enjoy this story. If you're impatient, and want things to move along, you won't.
Greville Fane was a popular and celebrated novelist who wrote three books a year about rich and aristocratic people plotting, romancing and betraying. She was considered vulgar by the upper classes, and almost illiterate by serious writers. At her death, the narrator is asked to write a piece for a newspaper.
The beauty of the story is the way it skewers her children, who are a pair of lazy, pretentious, social-climbers. James clearly illustrates why the children of celebrated people never live up to their parent's expectations.