The Ambassadors (Used Paperback) - Henry James
One of Henry James’s three late masterpieces, and an exemplar of his complex, mature style, The Ambassadors is considered by many the author’s finest work. James himself judged it to be “frankly, quite the best, ‘all round,’ of my productions.”
The story follows Lambert Strether, a staunch and stoical New Englander, as he travels abroad to rescue his employer’s prodigal son, Chad, from the seductive pitfalls of existence in Paris. Yet the social pleasures of the European capital awaken new urges in the fifty-five year old, and he begins to reconsider his own inadequately realized life. He soon beseeches Chad, “Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you haven’t had that what have you had?”
As Strether himself becomes involved in a relationship with the fascinating Maria Gostrey, a second, more determined, ambassador is dispatched. An ultimatum is delivered—and resisted—but then an accident reveals surprising truths to Strether, and he must decide whether his loyalties lie with old Europe or new America.
A bittersweet paean to the life not lived, The Ambassadors is one of the most achingly beautiful and moving novels ever written.