Best way to make yourself feel good about making yourself feel like shit

The Spoils of Poynton, by Henry James


Aw, Henry! You jerk me around and jerk me around, but you do it with a silk rope and a smile, so how can I argue? The Spoils of Poynton is one of those high-stress books where you're on the edge of your seat, even though the elevator pitch makes it sound downright dull. This is a story about a woman with flawless taste who has spent her life arranging her home into perfect harmony. Then her son marries a woman she can't stand and she has to leave the perfect home to them. These are the bones of the plot, but the reality is the full dinosaur, flesh and blood and roaring. I don't say you come away from this feeling entirely happy, but you feel really happy about your unhappiness. Exquisite writing. Silken rope.

...Poynton was the record of a life. It was written in great syllables of colour and form, the tongues of other countries and the hands of rare artists. [...] Mrs Gereth left her guest to finger fondly the brasses that Louis Quinze might have thumbed, to sit with Venetian velvets just held in a loving palm, to hang over cases of enamels and pass and repass before cabinets. [...] To give it all up, to die to it -- that thought ached in her breast. She herself could imagine clinging there with a closeness separate from dignity. To have created such a place was to have dignity enough...