These two recent posts on Henry James led to a discussion on my Facebook page over whether James was really worth the trouble that reading him can be, given how laboured his prose style sometimes is. I can't argue the point as I'd like to be able to, and in any case differences of literary taste are often not readily amenable to argument. All I can say is that I've enjoyed most of what I've read of James's work to this point, though I still have a lot of it left to read.
What I can add today, however, which I could not have done yesterday is that if you want one short introduction to how good Henry James can be, just read his tale The Beast in the Jungle. I found it a piece of pure genius. I don't wish to give anything away, but James creates a situation - and a long human relationship - out of something that hasn't happened and may never happen, and so may in fact be nothing. Moreover, even allowing it as a possibility, the two main protagonists don't initially know what it is. It's an elusive fact of the mind, so to say, which becomes a central material fact of the friendship between the two of them, John Marcher and May Bartram - a reality of supposition and uncertain expectations. How this then plays out is James's brilliant conception.
You could read it here, if you were so minded.