The Sacred Fount of Hanry James is his only novel to employ a first-person narrator. The writer watches and detects disturbing changes in his acquaintances. An ordinary woman suddenly begins to sparkle, a dull man is charming, a woman known for her swiftness has lost her poise, a friend is suddenly aged. Where one improves, another seems to suffer.
The narrator (unnamed) attempts to discover the truth about the love lives of his acquaintances.
The narrator notices that Gilbert Long seems much more assured and lively than before. He also sees that Mrs. Brissenden is much younger-looking than her husband, though she’s actually ten years older. The narrator begins to theorize that Long and Mrs. Briss are getting their vitality, vampire-like, from the “sacred fount” of their sexual partners’ energy.
At a weekend party he tries to decipher the relationships purely from the behavior and appearance of each guest.