The Arrow of Gold is presented as a manuscript written to a childhood friend by a sailor, “Monsieur George.”
Between voyages, M. George meets two men in Marseilles who introduce him to Dona Rita de Lastoala, a beauty who secures her curls with a golden arrow.
Rita was discovered by a painter who made his model and mistress. At his death, he left her his extensive art collections and fortune.
Rita’s family considers her a disgrace. Her ugly elder sister condescends to manage one of the houses Rita inherited and in which M. George lives when he’s not at sea.
Rita seduces M. George into gun-running to support Don Carlos de Bourbon’s 1870’s attempt to win the throne of Spain.
The novel seethes with political intrigue, lust, murder, and mayhem all politely covered by pages of talk. When Rita disappeared, I was just happy she shut up.
Joseph Conrad’s characters are complex in a literary fashion. They have to be studied rather than just observed.
Conrad’s plot is also more literary than lively. Readers must pay close attention (or read the book twice) to figure out what is happening.
Sadly, what’s happening isn’t worth the effort.The Arrow of Gold
by Joseph Conrad
Doubleday, Page, 1919 Project Gutenberg ebook #1083 385 pages
My grade: B-