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Henry James's celebrated novel about a passionate New England feminist, her reactionary Southern gentleman cousin, and a charismatic young woman whose loyalty they both wish to possess goes so directly to the heart of sexual politics that it speaks to us with a voice as fresh and vital as when the book was first published in 1886.
When Basil Ransom visits his cousin Olive Chancellor in Boston, she takes him to hear a political speech about women's emancipation by a gifted speaker named Verena Tarrant. Though repelled by her principles, Basil is enchanted by the lovely Verena and becomes determined to convert her to his rigidly conservative views of a woman's place. He argues that Verena is made for private passion not a public career, and wants to marry her and take her away from those he feels are exploiting her. But Olive, a serious devotee of the cause, has made Verena her protegee and taken her into her home. What ensues is a battle for the young woman's body and soul by two antagonists with wills stronger than hers. Riveting in its narrative drama, rich and sympathetic in its ironies, "The Bostonians "is the work of a master psychologist at the top of his form.
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“As devastating in its wit as it is sharp in its social critique of sexual politics. No writer in America had dared the subject before. No one has done it so well since.” —The New Republic