Listen free for 30 days

Listen with a free trial

One credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
Unlimited listening to the Plus Catalogue - thousands of select Audible Originals, podcasts and audiobooks.
Exclusive member-only deals.
No commitment - cancel anytime.
Buy Now for £18.29

Buy Now for £18.29

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

Summary

On New York City's Washington Square lives Catherine Sloper, a shy and plain-looking young woman who is tyrannized by her wealthy, overbearing father. When young Morris Townsend begins to court her, Dr. Sloper, distrusting his motives, threatens to disinherit Catherine.

In accordance with her father's suspicions, young Townsend disappears, leaving Catherine to humiliation, heartache, and lonely spinsterhood. Years later, after her father's death, Townsend returns, and Catherine must make up her own mind about his intentions.

This 1881 novel was adapted into the popular movie The Heiress.

(P)1999 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic reviews

"Washington Square is a perfectly balanced novel...a work of surpassing refinement and interest." (Elizabeth Hardwick)
"It's James at the top of his form." ( AudioFile)

What listeners say about Washington Square (Blackstone Audio Edition)

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    59
  • 4 Stars
    23
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    59
  • 4 Stars
    17
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    50
  • 4 Stars
    20
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    2

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

impeccable reading<br />

is difficult to imagine a better reading. Lloyd James reads quite slowly with slight pauses to allow the listener to take in the meaning. Even though this is one of Henry James' more straightforward works, it is ideal to have these half seconds to absorb the prose. only negative is that this was a cassette recording, and we get the end of side or tape announcements. Audible needs to sort out these issues.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great listen to a classic

Well written and extremely well narrated. A real classic and a good listen. Highly recommended. Gave it 5 stars

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A story of two halves

I am in a phase of enjoying this period in New York’s social life. Both James and Edith Wharton are wonderful writers in comparison modern authors seem to lack the depth of vision and power of observation. When people say that a book is ‘well written’ these books should form the template of their view. I don’t believe that I make these remarks with judgement obscured by the novelty of the style or fascination with the period in which they were written!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Curious story

Well written story and typical of its time.
Well narrated.
Still not convinced about the ending....

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

New to Henry James

I am glad I was listening while multi-tasking as I would have grudges the time to read this myself. It's OK. The characters are not complex, the story is not complex. I am grateful to the narrator for reading, but his voice is very monotonous.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Entertaining Period drama

One needs to tolerate a Period novel like this one with its formal language but HJ writes incredibly well. The descriptions are detailed, easily producing images of both character and setting.
The material is a New York middle class drama of early 19C, almost devoid of politics, a social commentary reflecting trends and morality of the day with clear characterisations. Like “What Maisie knew” , HJ offers a view of what’s acceptable.
It wasnt overly long, the performance good and it was an entertaining interlude.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Well read.

Wonderful delivery of a Henry James’ sad novel. A short absorbing listen and the evocation of the nineteenth century mores in America are delightful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A relaxing listen

Very good and very well read in a lovely soft American accent.

A relaxing listen.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Excellent Narration

First, the narration by Lloyd James is excellent. I read Washington Square as a student and I would certainly recommend it as a great starting point to meet Henry James.
Interestingly James himself did not rate Washington Square and dismissed it as one of his "unhappy accidents".

But I don't think we return to James for the plot they often feel forced or melodrama without the happy ending.. Or the characters lack dimension and warmth. I think there is a similarity between Henry James and Edith Wharton it is a cascading verbal waterfall. But James at his best has a hypnotic, lyrical beauty. and I think that is why I have come back to him again, in order to experience that feeling of being washed with words.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Perfect prose illuminating James’ EQ!

This apparently slight story unfolds at so perfect a pace that the beautiful prose never gets in the way of the narrrative or of the emotional pull of the story.
James’ intellect is exposed in the finely honed language of the brilliant doctor, but we feel James’ true genius in the brutally honest insights he shares as he exposes the weaknesses and flaws of his characters over time. The four principals are (perhaps sadly) as real today as they were almost two centuries ago. But who nowadays could give life to them so vividly and truthfully with such a tight story?
That the language is superb might be a given, but the reader is an extraordinary talent who I am ashamed not to know more about. A truly brilliant performance that seems to deliver James as he would have wished to be delivered , enhanced but not embellished. Clarified but never unbalanced. Really this was one the best audio performances I’ve ever come across.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Celia
  • Celia
  • 14-04-08

Fabulous

This book's characters just jump out of the narration, it's absolutely wonderful. James' understanding of a certain female character is uncanny. I adored this book and was so sorry when it ended!

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for myz
  • myz
  • 03-03-17

Classic!

I'm of two minds when it comes to this book. On the one hand, the writing and James' observations are exquisitely on point, and he is able to create such a fleshed out story with so little story-line. On the other, I disliked all the characters. I did sympathize with Catherine, and in a way, even with Morris, but I did not connect to them. I've found this to be the case with other books by Henry James as well as Edith Wharton. They are such masters of language, but for me, they are not as acutely talented in drawing out characters with whom I have an affinity. I never perceived great passion or chemistry between any of the characters, so the "love story" did not strike me as terribly authentic or believable. That being said, I did strangely enjoy it. After reading far too much news in recent months, and quite a number or creepy thrillers, I felt a need for beautiful language, and eloquence in a world where some days it seems there is decidedly too little of either. I wasn't looking for a book to break my heart or fully engage all my emotions. I read this because I trust James to provide something of linguistic beauty, and in that respect, I was quite satisfied.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for christine
  • christine
  • 05-04-16

Accessible James Beautifully Read

Less internal than some Henry James, memorable (if mostly unlovable) characters, sad ending, great narration.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for HappyLady
  • HappyLady
  • 07-01-16

Excellent audio presentation of Henry James' classic

Easy to listen to and thoroughly enjoyable the presentation narrated by Lloyd James. Wished that Lloyd James had done some of the other Henry James audio versions.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Laura
  • Laura
  • 04-06-08

A Light Classic

If you enjoy well written 19th century classic literature, this is a great choice. It's pretty light, and not quite as intriguing as The Portrait of a Lady, but it still keeps you interested. My only complaint is the narrator's pacing- he reads well, but leaves interminable pauses between most of his sentences. It might be worthwhile to listen to a sample before buying it.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Pandarin
  • Pandarin
  • 06-02-21

Narrator was very flat

I disliked the narrator. Sounded so flat and dry and monotone, with cadences that actually took away from the storyline.

The story itself was ok, nothing really moving or poignant.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Teresa
  • Teresa
  • 13-11-20

Great Listen!!!!

Loved the movie (The Heiress) with Olivia de Haviland 1948. That dramatic sceneand now the book!!!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for CDTX
  • CDTX
  • 17-02-20

not my favorite narrator

Narrator pauses too long between every single sentence, which wasn't helped by increasing the speed.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for M. Dyer
  • M. Dyer
  • 23-05-19

Wonderful Story, great narration

What a great story and it was made even better by the narration! I highly recommend this wonderful book.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for James
  • James
  • 04-01-15

Excellent reading

Superbly well performed. James at his perceptive best, fine delineation of sensitive and victimised young woman. Reader brings out the awfulness of the family members and suitor around her.

1 person found this helpful