The Wings of the Dove, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Emerging from the grit and stigma of poverty to a life of fairytale privilege under the wing of her aunt, the beautiful and financially ambitious Kate Croy is already romantically involved with promising journalist Merton Densher when they become acquainted with Milly Theale, a New York socialite of immense wealth.

Learning of Milly's mortal illness and passionate attraction to Densher, Kate sets the scene for a romantic betrayal intended to secure her lasting financial security.

As the dying Milly retreats within the carnival splendour of a Venetian palazzo, becoming the frail hub of a predatory circle of fortune-seekers, James unfolds a resonant, brooding tale of doomed passion, betrayal, human resilience and remorse.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780141441283

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

This being my first Henry James reading, I was initially overwhelmed by the style and the concentration necessary to get the gist of each sentence. The insights into the workings of the human mind and emotion along with the descriptions of them made the effort worthwhile. The depth of the character portrayals made them each of them likable despite their faults although I found Densher's submission to love more admirable than Kate's strength. Basically Kate's strength was used to manipulate others to serve her greed. Millie was seemingly too good but appeared to be meant as a pawn to display the characters of Densher and Kate. The book has left me contemplating the characters and the plot long after finishing it -- the sign of a good book

Review by

Honestly, I think this is only the third best of James' three late masterpieces (after the Ambassadors and the Golden Bowl.) I found it much harder going than either of those, although the plot was much more involved and interesting. I'm not sure how to explain that- maybe the plot was the main thing dragging me through the interminable paragraphs, whereas in the other two the reflections and nuances seemed much more important. Although I got something out this (as ever, James is an education in form and psychology), I would definitely recommend the Ambassadors over Wings of the Dove.