This classic Henry James morality tale involves a triangle of friends and lovers doomed by overreaching desire and treachery.In early 20th-century London, Kate Croy is secretly engaged to Merton Denscher, a journalist possessing all the qualities of an ideal husband except money. By chance, Kate befriends American heiress Milly Theale, whom she learns is suffering from a mysterious fatal illness. Kate, who truly cares for Milly, devises a scheme to maximize their combined assets: she encourages Merton to take an interest in Milly, to seduce her, and finally, to marry her. By lending her lover to brighten Milly's few remaining days, Kate intends to make him a rich widower whom she herself can marry. But such well-laid plans are not enough for the subtlety of the heart.
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"James did nothing like an Englishman - or an American. He was a great fact in himself, a new world, a terra incognita that he would devote all his days to mapping for the rest of us....James was the master of the novel in English in a way that no one had ever been before; or has ever been since." (Gore Vidal)