The Open Door

The Open Door The story is the journey not the destination Or so the philosopher s say But this is my story and it has a beginning a middle and an end The Open Door is a luminous and profoundly moving novel ins

  • Title: The Open Door
  • Author: Elizabeth Maguire
  • ISBN: 9781590512838
  • Page: 279
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The story is the journey, not the destination Or so the philosopher s say But this is my story, and it has a beginning, a middle, and an end The Open Door is a luminous and profoundly moving novel inspired by the life of Constance Feni Woolson, one of the most widely read and respected American authors of the nineteenth century Exploring themes of passion, life, The story is the journey, not the destination Or so the philosopher s say But this is my story, and it has a beginning, a middle, and an end The Open Door is a luminous and profoundly moving novel inspired by the life of Constance Feni Woolson, one of the most widely read and respected American authors of the nineteenth century Exploring themes of passion, life, death, friendship, and art, the novel is a vivid evocation of the complex forces behind literary creation.After years of supporting her mother and a hapless brother through her writing, Constance finds herself in early middle age hungry, ravenous to see and live as much as possible She sails for Europe with a letter of introduction to Henry James, the writer she admires above all others Constance is intoxicated by Europe, Italy in particular, and she and James eventually meet in Florence James is delighted by this highly intelligent, independent woman whom he dubs Feni as a sign of his esteem and makes her his confidante For her part, Constance finds with James the unequalled joy of never running out of things to say Constance s courageous, open nature is odds with James s secretive one and inevitably leads to friction, transgression, and revenge both private and public Elegantly conceived and life affirming, The Open Door is an unforgettable portrait of a remarkable woman who lived with passion and refused to accept the narrowing of her world.
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      Published :2019-02-03T14:34:07+00:00

    758 Comment

    • Ivan says:

      This is the story of Constance Fennimore Woolson, a popular fiction writer of the 19th century and grand-niece of James Fennimore Cooper, set free to pursue her vocation only after fulfilling a protracted family obligation. She ventures to Europe at age 40 with a letter of introduction to the estimable Henry James.Truman Capote would have labeled this a non-fiction novel, for most of the actual “events” depicted happened just as chronicled here (e.g. dates, deaths, addresses and travel itine [...]

    • Paula says:

      I was intrigued by the relationship between Henry James and Constance Fenimore Woolson. This fictional account takes great liberties and makes broad assumptions but is quite facinating. In this book Fenimore is a free spirit who has escaped the strangulation of her family. She is a successful author of 'ladies' novels but craves the real literary conversation and friendship. She is especially in awe of Henry James. She does manage to become his friend although he is obviously disdainful of her w [...]

    • Carol says:

      This is the story of Constance Fenimore Woolson's life after her mother died. She traveled to Europe, wrote and made many friends with women and men (some lovers) and friend Henry James (who I thought WHY is she so attached to this self centered man) which we find out later that his interests is with young men. Alice James plays a role, she was quite disagreeable and totally self absorbed. Alice dies from breast cancer, and a letter was sent to Woolson that Alice "gives her permission to Constan [...]

    • Paula says:

      A quick read. I did some quick research on Constance Fenimore Woolson and Henry James before starting the book and it was very helpful. The focus of this book was supposed to be her relationship with Henry James and I found that whole situation pretty boring. I think both come off as selfish snobs. Still, the story of an independent woman who found commercial success during the late 19th century is always intriguing and the fact that this particualr lady comes to a tragic early end is sad. I do [...]

    • Lauren says:

      I was pleasantly surprised though there is a lack of subtlty where you really want it and I found the ending most unfortunate. Toibin handled the ambivilence much better in The Master.Still, very interesting to learn more about Woolson and all plausible enough. I liked how Henry and Alice co-conspired to make Constance a Jamesian heroine - all disappointment and unrequited love. They really were a self-centered bunch.

    • Wm says:

      Too elusive, too revealing. I suppose if I might like it a lot more if I were more familiar with the biographies of Woolson and James. Or I might not like it at all. What I do like, though, is that while so much of the interpolation seems calculated to appeal to readers with 21st sensibilities, it also treats Woolsons feelings and talents as serious and interesting.

    • Caroline says:

      Crisp, quotable sentences fill this beautiful work. The story flowed effortlessly right from the start; and the people and places were vividly alive on the page. I was sad to see it end.

    • Isabel says:

      A fictional account of the real-life relationship between Henry James and Constance Fenimore Woolson. Fenimore (James' name for her - he's impressed with her literary lineage) is a successful writer of 'ladies' novels. She idolizes James and travels to Europe to escape a stifling life in Boston but also to track down James and (hopefully) befriend him. James is the more serious, but less successful of the two. Although they do begin a close friendship, it's clear he thinks very little of her wri [...]

    • Melinda says:

      A rather novelized biography couched as a memoir inspired by the life of once-popular Constance Fenimore Woolson, one of the most widely read American authors of the 19th century and the grandniece of James Fennimore Cooper, and cherished, beloved female friend of Henry James. Through Maguire's elegant pen, Woolson, a writer who was often pigeonholed as a mere "verbal colorist," gets to establish her significance to Henry James; Maguire's vivid depiction of these complex exchanges is utterly abs [...]

    • Emily says:

      Constance Fenimore Woolson lived first a life tied down taking care of her mother as the spinster daughter. Then she lived a life of freedom in Europe as a well paid writer. She would have been a very interesting person to know I can imagine. But this fictional story is nothing special. It is written in memoir form which I liked. I knew Connie's thoughts and struggles with immediacy. She suffered greatly from earaches but was able to accomplish so much in her work. Her relationship with Henry Ja [...]

    • Lorri Steinbacher says:

      I had orignially intended to read this as a companion piece to Toibin's The Master but it got buried under otehr books in my reading pile and I forgot about it. Partly it was Constance Fennimore Cooper's take on her relationship with Henry James, quite different from the way Toibin/James presented it in The Master. But to me that was the least interesting aspect of the story. What most interested me was how Cooper dealt with being a productive, commerically successful artist; a woman with a stro [...]

    • Sheri says:

      I thoroughly enjoyed this fictional account of the ahead-of-her-time Constance Fenimore Woolson. The author took great liberty in portraying the thoughts and heart of this amazing woman. Her life is fascinating to follow and her freedom was refreshing to me, in that era she lived in, because it was unusual. She had health problems but loved to walk, row a boat and fish. She wrote many stories during her lifetime and had a close friendship with Henry James. Her death was deemed an accident, a fal [...]

    • Krysia says:

      After reading Toibin's The Master, I became a bit intrigued by Constance Fenimore Woolson. This novel gives some insight into the life of this fascinating woman, who was a very popular regional novelist and short story writer in her day, but today is probably only read by graduate students and professors. The novel explores and does a good job of explaining the relationship between Woolson and Henry James. She loved meeting and conversing with "the master", but felt that something was taken away [...]

    • Merrilee says:

      This is a novel inspired by the life of an American writer of the 19th century, Constance Fennimore Woolson. After years of caring for others (the apparent role of the unmarried sister) she goes to Europe to find the freedom to live and work independently. She wants to meet Henry James, and does, and the development of their friendship is a fascinating journey. I loved this character - her courage, determination to live her own life on her own terms, and her commitment to friendship as well as t [...]

    • Lindi says:

      A subtly subversive book, The Open Door is written in the first person as the memoir of the real 19th century author Catherine Fenimore Woolson, whose friendship with Henry James has fueled the gossip mill for decades. In Maguire's account, Woolson gets to tell her side of their story and in so doing, Maguire gets to explore something Woolson was interested in deconstructing: the collapse of a friendship.

    • Kendra says:

      This was a random grab off the library shelf and it was okay; different from what I normally read. Reading about writers maybe isn't a good idea. I don't really want to know the people behind the stories. Went to a reading of an author I really like but the person was not what I expected, but a bit puffed up about herself.

    • Lora says:

      I'm still mulling over what I think of this book. I probably should read Woolson myself. It strikes me as well done but slightly flat. If only she hadn't confused me on the first page by calling a canoe a skiff--and Maguire had even been an editor before writing novels! The author did a good job of getting me interested in Constance Fenimore Woolson,though.

    • Jan Holmes says:

      This was an interesting story,however I had more enjoyment exploring each new character on the internet. Henry James famous author,Constance Fenimore Woolson famous author,Clarence King geologist/explorer and many more. Plus there are tons of literary references throughout. I have added many books to my lists because of this book.

    • Sherry says:

      To quote:"Inspired by the life of Constance Fenimore Woolson, a widely read author of the 19th century." (I never heard of her).A truly liberated woman, before that word was used to describe a 'free' woman. She meets Henry James in Europe and this book also is about their relationship and their writings.A good read.

    • Lauren Barrett says:

      Well-written book. I found the epilogue to be the best-written and actually re-read it after finishing the book. Interesting story. I do like to read about literary characters and this fit the bill.

    • Dianne Lange says:

      Stumbled upon this novel in the library, but intrigued by the subject (Constance Fenimore Woolson), checked it out. It's a small, beautifully written book full of intriguing insights about Woolson and her buddy Henry James. Are they true? Does it matter? A very good read. Now to read Woolson.

    • Mary says:

      I liked this book, but I can't really explain why. Not much actually happens -- it is mostly the thoughts of a woman writer struggling with her place in the world. The writing is quite good and the observations of the woman are interesting.

    • Linda Robinson says:

      Historical fiction. I must have held this book because of Woolson's brief connection to Michigan. I don't understand why I like some of this genre, and absolutely not others. C'est la vie. Contradictions and inexplicable behavior intertwined with delight.

    • Beckyt says:

      The single best thing about this book was it piqued my interest in learning more about Constance Woolson and Henry James. The book and the character's voice were so dreary, but the lives themselves seem quite interesting.

    • Regina says:

      Maguire's view on Woolson is empowering and refreshing. I loved this book and continue to re-read for it social commentary.

    • A.gasior says:

      It's chalk full of fascinating historical tidbits. The narration seems a bit too forward thinking for it's time, at least that's what I presume when I consider what a 19th century woman would think.

    • Bev says:

      This book did a very good job of capturing a 19th-century voice in the form of a fictional memoir. I think if I liked Henry James better, I would have enjoyed the parallels here.

    • Mary says:

      Amazing book ! Constance, the main character, is someone that i wish that I could have met ! Way ahead of her time and I felt such a strong kinship with her.

    • Jmolentin says:

      So interesting, especially after reading Toibin's The Master. I also remember being so struck by the author's death so close to the publication of this book

    • Allison Potter says:

      Such a good book. I got this title suggestion from a previous book - Tolstoy and the Purple Chair - I never would have found out about it, otherwise.

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