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The American (Penguin Classics) Paperback – December 17, 1981
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Top Customer Reviews
He becomes entangled in what he thinks is a simple plan for matrimony, but is really truly a great deal larger and more treacherous and terrible than that.
We spend a lot of time in Newman's mind, paragraphs of character analaysis are sprung upon us, but nothing seems plodding or slow, nothing feels useless. By the end of the book we find that we think like the character and can only agree with what he does. We react to seemingly big plot twists and events as he does, without reaction, and a logical, common sense train of thought.
But don't misunderstand that. For a book that is so polite and the essence of "slow-reaction", it is heartwrenching and tragic. You will cry, you will wonder, and you will ask yourself questions. Colorful, lifelike, and exuberant characters fight for your attention and your emotions, and we are intensely endeared to them. Emotional scenes speckle the book and are just enough. And the fact that something terrible and evil exists in this story hangs over your head from the beginning. It's hard to guess what happens because James doesn't give us many clues, and the ending may come as a surprise to some people. And without us knowing it, James is comparing American culture to European culture (of the day), and this in of itself is fulfilling.Read more ›
I couldnt recommend this more for a good read. The only caution I have is for readers who have never been to France. They may get an extremely negative impression of French people from many of the characters in this book. Go to Paris and you will find the city is wonderful, and so are the French people. These characters are not typical!! They belong to a certain class, and the book does take place 150 years ago. If this book doesnt get you hooked on James, I dont know what will. Try Washington Square and dont miss that movie, with Jennifer Jason Leigh, Albert Finney and Maggie Smith.
An attractive hero, he possesses remarkable talents. In fact he has pretty well every virtue except exalted antecedents; he is, for example, tall, good-looking, urbane, well-mannered, forthright, intelligent, thoughtful, considerate, persistent, good-natured, generous and rich. At their first meeting he conquers Claire sufficiently to be allowed to continue to visit her, instead of being shown the door. Actually, his dogged audacity is pretty amazing; he simply asks her to marry him after about the fifth meeting, because he wants everything to be above-board. She says No and he promises not to mention the matter for another six months. He then succeeds in making a bargain with her mother and brother, the most rigid and narrow dyed-in-the-wool aristocrats, that they will not stand in his way or say anything against him until she accepts his hand. Marquise and marquis make no secret of their dislike of him ("a commercial person"), nor of their horror and disgust at the entire proposition. These are two different worlds. Christopher is aware of it but is confident that their differences can be overcome; after all he is very rich and he knows this is important to them.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not quite up to the masterly level of Portrait of a Lady and his exquisite later novels but a fine and highly accessible early introduction to James.Published 2 months ago by C. Kent
Wonderful discussion of the difference between American opportunity and British aristocracy. Well written with interesting characters.Published 5 months ago by Mrs. I.
I never really liked Henry James from the snippets I read from his books. The American did not disappoint my low expectations. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Metaprof
This book has a lot of charm and manners and mood. It is very interesting and grabs you from the first page. I hate Guly recommend it.Published 6 months ago by Gregory Wolfson
This is my first Henry James and it is a delightful read. The writing, though sometimes archaic sounding, is utterly compelling, as is the storyline. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Bobby & Becca Vines
When you tackle Henry James you have to do it for the ride, so to speak. His plots are thin and VERY slow, his prose demands your attention (especially the later novels), and his... Read morePublished 15 months ago by HL