Book Review: A Symphonic Tale
Conjuring the ghost of Henry James.
Dec 6, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 12 • By EDITH ALSTON
But if James’s radiant characters suggest silken figures under a bell jar, Ozick’s wander in emotional isolation through a shattered world of bitter disconnection, never seeming to gain much from exposure to light and air. And when Bea is moved to act in ways Strether can not, the results are only disastrous, neither telling nor comic. Returned from seeing
What are we to make of what Ozick wants? Recalling the confrontation in California that goaded Leo into finally achieving the symphony—the dream of his youth—Bea seems only to be drinking the dregs of the marriage gone wrong long ago. At the end of The Ambassadors, when Strether, by his own nature, is left alone, James’s particularity gives the moment the lift of a hot air balloon.
Edith Alston is a writer and editor in New York.
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