September Book of the Month: Washington Square
This September, we’re celebrating the #backtoschool vibes even though none of us are actually going back to school (and we wish we would...)
So, for our September book of the month, I want to introduce to you the book that made me really nail down that I want to study English literature in college and make it my career. Can I pinpoint the exact thing in this book that made me feel this way? No, but it did something. I want to introduce you to it as well, maybe something will click for you as well. Those are the best books, the books that open up something new inside of us.
I read Washington Square thanks to my favorite English professor in high school Dr. Rowes. Reading this in the beginning of my freshman year of high school really set my outlook on looking at womanhood and women’s problematic place in the society as having to fit into a specific mold to be accepted. Looking back, this book later became a great basis for my future career, which is empowering women! (I credit Dr. Rowes, who actually still tells me I shouldn’t be in English/writing for my love of literature. She wanted me to not follow in her path, but guess what Dr. Rowes? You’re my hero). So, Dr. Rowes and Catherine changed my life. I’m super excited to share this book with you.
This is a really short novel with straightforward prose, beautiful, multidimensional characters and a gorgeous tale of a young woman’s development into independence and wisdom that is still relevant in our day and age. Plus, we all know those guys who are so handsome, charming, sexy and seductive, but are actually complete trash...let this book be your PSA to STAY AWAY FROM THEM.
Originally published serially in 1880 and named for the upscale area in New York where the novel is set, Washington Square is Henry James’s classic story of familial conflicts and social class in mid-19th century America. It is the tale of Catherine Sloper, a naïve, kind, and plain heiress who has lived a sheltered life, raised by her stubborn and wealthy father and flighty aunt in a grand house. Much to her father’s disapproval, she is wooed by Morris Townsend, a handsome and sophisticated gentleman, who is more interested in Catherine's inheritance than he is in her. When the two get engaged against the wishes of her father, Catherine must make a choice between the only man she will ever love and the wealth that she will inherit.