Book 2, Chapters 1-3 Summary
Adam Verver is residing at his home, called Fawns, on a Sunday morning while all the others of the family are at church. He has retreated to his billiard room to escape Mrs. Rance, who has accompanied the Miss Lutches, friends of Maggie’s from the American Midwest. Mr. Verver is afraid Mrs. Rance is tracking him down with marriage on her mind, although she already has a husband somewhere in America.
Mr. Verver reflects on his first visit to Europe after the death of his wife, when Maggie was ten years old. He had come to Europe on his honeymoon and begun collecting antiques for his wife. After her death, Verver continued to collect but this time for the purposes of a museum. He wonders why he started out as a collector after his wife’s death, having begun the enterprise in Italy. He is now planning on how to best display his collections. He decides he will not settle for a small display but for an exhibition on a large scale.
It is now more than a year since Maggie’s marriage to the Prince, and the couple has a young son, who is referred to as “the Principino.” On this particular Sunday, they have gone to the nearest Roman Catholic Church for morning Mass, and Mrs. Rance and the Miss Lutches have walked to the small Anglican church that is situated on the property of Fawns. Maggie is Catholic, following the faith of her mother, who was devout in her practice of the religion. Mr. Verver enjoys being alone; he does not have any particular faith of his own.
When the worshippers return, Mr. Verver and Maggie spend the afternoon together away from the others. The Prince is not invited to join them, having failed to displace the father in the heart of the daughter. Rather than growing apart after Maggie’s marriage, Mr. Verver and his daughter are drawn even closer, especially with the arrival of a grandchild who serves as a bond between father and daughter more than between husband and wife. The presence of Mrs. Rance has given rise to the possibility of Mr. Verver’s remarrying; he is still relatively young. Both Maggie and Mr. Verver agree that, though Mrs. Rance is most likely not a good prospect (despite her efforts), there will be others who could become the next Mrs. Verver.