The Ambassadors – Henry James

22 Oct

Challenges – BCF October Reading Circle
1001 Books You Must Read

Synopsis – Concerned that her son Chad may have become involved with a woman of dubious reputation, the formidable Mrs Newsome sends her ‘ambassador’ Strether from Massachusetts to Paris to extricate him. Strether’s mission, however, is gradually undermined as he falls under the spell of the city and finds Chad refined rather than corrupted by its influence and that of his charming companion, the comtesse de Vionnet. As the summer wears on, Mrs Newsome comes to the conclusion that she must send another envoy to Paris to confront the errant Chad, and a Strether whose view of the world has changed profoundly. James’s favourite novel and one of the greatest of his late works, The Ambassadors is a subtle and often witty exploration of different American responses to a European environment.

My Thoughts – I was so looking forward to reading this book, having not read many classics, but unfortunatly i just didnt like it. The language really really really put me off! I actually couldnt understand a lot of it and Henry James seemed to have a way of using far to many words say a simple thing. Maybe this was just me not being able to understand it, but it made the book very difficult to understand. I was reading sentences over and over again, and this really slowed down my reading and enjoyment of the book.
I’m hoping not all classic books are like this as I’d love to be able to read more of them!

Rating – 2/5

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2 Responses to “The Ambassadors – Henry James”

  1. Cliff Burns October 22, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    I’ve just never seen the attraction of James. Even “The Turn of the Screw”, a rather short effort, seemed interminable to me. But saying you dislike James is like admitting you find Joseph Conrad dull (at least in some of the literary circles I hang out in). Considered in very poor taste, an indication of low breeding…

  2. mywordlyobsessions October 26, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    I agree with Cliff. James is a difficult one and even though I love classic books I could never really identify with him. The only thing I have ever read by him that was enjoyable was ‘The Aspern Papers’, and that was also a short story.

    You might want to check it out. You can find it on the Gutenburg Project and read it for free!

    And yes. Not all classics are brilliant. Conrad is not always readable either. I freely admit that I don’t ‘get’ Hemingway at all and James Joyce is DULL. If anybody calls me of poor taste then they can go shove it. I like my literature a la Borges. And in some circles that is considered an acquired taste. If you haven’t tried him yet, do. And if you don’t get him, keep trying. The man speaks in prisms and tangents, but when it all clicks you will really appreciate the beautiful symmetry of his words.

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