Rose West's Reviews > The American

The American by Henry James
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Sep 21, 10

Read from August 10 to September 20, 2010 — I own a copy

This was not my favorite Henry James novel. That said, the book did have its good qualities, one of which being James's exploration of the differences between America and Europe (it's what he does best, after all).

The book was rather slow, and I could swear the first two hundred pages were completely plotless. The romance didn't become romantic until it became tragic, and the big family secret didn't seem as gruesome as it was hyped up to be. So those interested in plot alone will find this a dull book.

The most prominent feature was the comparison of the two different worlds: the American way of capitalism exhibited in the hero's making of his own fortune versus the old European way of traditions in which good name is inherited and disappointed girls run off to convents despite all reasonable protests. This old world strikes the hero as "a page torn out of a romance, with no context in his own experience." What happens when the two worlds collide? Well, I won't spoil it for you.
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