The Spoils of Poynton

The Spoils of Poynton

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The Spoils of Poynton by Henry James

Published:

1896

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The Spoils of Poynton

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The ignoble squabble which furnishes the motif for this novel by Henry James relates to the ownership of a collection of bric-a-brac and old furniture in an old Jacobean house in England, gradually collected by an elderly pair with one son. On the death of Mr. Gereth, Poynton, with all its belongings, becomes the property of this son, but to relinquish her cherished bibelots — especially to the heavy young Philistine whom the heir has selected as his wife — proves too much for the philosophy of Mrs. Gereth. First, she steals most of the valuables and transfers them to the small dower house assigned to her; then she intrigues to detach her son from his fiancé, and to make him care for another girl of her own selection with a kindred soul for old things. Then, supposing herself successful, she returns the spoil and dumps it down again in its former place, and so it goes on — Mrs. Gereth vibrating between cupidity and despair, her son between his two entanglements like the fabled ass, and young lady No. 2 betwixt hope and fear.

Book Excerpt

anything nice at home, and whose only treasure was her subtle mind, to hear this genuine English lady, fresh and fair, young in the fifties, declare with gayety and conviction that she was herself the greatest Jew who had ever tracked a victim. Fleda, with her mother dead, hadn't so much even as a home, and her nearest chance of one was that there was some appearance her sister would become engaged to a curate whose eldest brother was supposed to have property and would perhaps allow him something. Her father paid some of her bills, but he didn't like her to live with him; and she had lately, in Paris, with several hundred other young women, spent a year in a studio, arming herself for the battle of life by a course with an impressionist painter. She was determined to work, but her impressions, or somebody's else, were as yet her only material. Mrs. Gereth had told her she liked her because she had an extraordinary flair; but under the circumstances a flair was a questionable boon: in the dr

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