Reviews - What do customers think about The Europeans (Large Print)?
A pleasant diversion, but not numbered among James' best. Jul 17, 2008
Henry James is one of the seminal novelists of the Victorian era, an American by birth who made his adult life in London, the capital of the late 19th century world. James' novels were shaped by this immigrant experience, the predominant them of his writing being the interaction between Americans and Europeans. "The Europeans" is one such story, though, contrary to what the title might suggest, it is set in America.
My introduction to James' work was a pair of his novellas, "The Aspern Papers" and "The Turn of the Screw". The former featured an American literary historian travelling the Vnice to seek a sort of treasure in the possession of a local British expatriate. "The Europeans" sees a pair of Europeans (from some German principate, seemingly, though Felix makes a point of cosmopolitanly disclaiming nationality) travel to antebellum Massachusetts (around thirty years before James was writing in the 1870s). Eugenia (alternately referred to by her first name, or as "Madame Munster", or as "the Baroness") has come to make her marital fortune, faced with the dissolution of her morganatic marriage to a German prince, while her brother Felix is just tagging along as part of his Bohemian existence as a portrait-painter. They plan to visit their American cousins (their mother's brother and his children) of whom they have only heard report of. The Wentworths are a family of devout Puritans, in contrast to the more cultured and worldly Europeans; the arrivals are particularly intriguing to Gertrude, the younger of the family's two daughters, who finds the Baroness a striking example of a different kind of womanhod, and Felix a man wholly unlike her father's candidate for her hand, Mr. Brand.
"The Europeans" does not have a great deal in the way of plot. There are no antagonists in any real sense, just character interaction where some people have contrary objectives. Felix and Gertrude are the most developed and appealing of the characters in the story, and everyone else is generally well-drawn. James is an expert examiner of human nature, thoug he is here bound by editorial contraints to supply predetermined happy endings for several characters, though he sneaks in his more customary downbeatness in the resolution of Eugenia's story.
All in all, this is an entertaining if not special short novel, one that James himself did not especially regard (excluding it from the multi-volume "Collected Works" he published in the early 20th century). It is enjoyable and worth the time of those seeking a broad understanding of the author's canon, but for people looking to see James at his best it would be more advisable to try "The Portrait of a Lady".
The Europeans Nov 24, 2007
When I found out that "The Europeans", by Henry James, could offer more than just a wonderful film, I couldn't wait to order the unabridged "The Europeans" Audio-CD, read by Lloyd James, as well as the complete soundtrack CD "The Europeans", with composer Richard Robbins' arrangements. The film is a James Ivory's masterpiece with a New England autumn background, the Audio-CD matches the film wonderfully, where you can picture the film characters through Lloyd's interpretation, and the Soundtrack CD starts off with breathtaking Clara Schumann's "Andante" Opus-17.
An Early James Novel, and Not As Good as Portrait of a Lady Jan 21, 2007
This is a 4 or 5 star novel but not a great work of literature.
Somewhat surprisingly the Europeans is set in rural Massachusetts, not in Europe. The book is a few hundred pages long. This length is longer than Washington Square and much shorter that Portrait of a Lady, the latter being a much better novel than the present work.
Without giving away the plot, it has that Henry James characteristic of an uncertain final outcome hence the novel lacks a completely satisfying ending. There is some happiness and closure for the protagonists, but as we read in Washington Square, James sometimes leaves the future a bit uncertain, and he does so here.
In any case, it is the story of a European brother and sister, who are linked to European nobles through marriage, visiting their wealthy relations outside of Boston. The story is set some time in the early 19th century. Many claim that the dates and events mentioned in the book are confused and these errors introduce elements of confusion. In general, this does not distract from the story.
I found the novel to be an interesting but not a compelling read.
This classic is recommended reading, but it is not a novel or classic that one "must read."
All's well that ends well May 17, 2006
This is a novel in superlative style: 'heroic, magnanimous, exalted, brightly, caressingly, exquisite, fascinating, wonderful, sublime, radiant, delightful ...' It confronts and mingles very superficially two impoverished Europeans with members of a wealthy Boston bourgeoisie family in a play of misunderstood sentiments and love. There is absolutely not a shade of a discussion of the social/mental difference between Europe and the US at the end of the 19th century. This book doesn't 'say nothing' (Thomas Hardy, quoted in the introduction), but nearly nothing. It hardly surpasses the level of a three-penny stationary novel, compared with the works of a Dostoevsky or a Flaubert. It is terribly sentimental and the tears flow easily.
Only for Henry James fans.
first time disappointment Apr 28, 2006
I have often been exasperated with Henry James and his determination to make a simple sentence into a complicated puzzle and an intellectual game. But I have never been disappointed by James until now. I was surprised to see that this was written within 3 yrs of one of his masterpieces, Portrait of a Lady. If I didn't know better I'd say he wrote this one on a deadline for purely financial purposes.