Tuesday 21 May 2019

James, Henry "Daisy Miller"

James, Henry "Daisy Miller" - 1879

I have always loved classics and recently joined an online club: The Classics Club.

The beginning for me was Spin # 20. Everyone listed 20 classics from their TBR pile and one number was chosen, it was # 19 which for me was "Daisy Miller".

I had read one book by Henry Miller before, "The American".

Same as there, the author describes life of an American woman in 19th century Europe. How life in the States clashes with that in Europe where some old-fashioned manners still have to be observed whereas the Americans were a lot more independent at the time.

My one complaint about the story is, it's too short. You've only just started reading the novel and it's already over. Not really great for me. And I wouldn't call it a comedy. I haven't laughed once which I usually expect from a comedy.

Even so, there is a lot in this book that needs to be looked at. Have we really changed that much that we don't believe in conventions anymore as we try to tell ourselves all the time, are we really that much more "modern" than the people who lived 200 years ago? Sometimes, no, often, I have my doubts.

It's a good book about society and its prejudices. Worth reading. Certainly not my last book by Henry James.

From the back cover:

"Travelling in Europe with her family, Daisy Miller, an exquisitely beautiful young American woman, presents her fellow-countryman Winterbourne with a dilemma he cannot resolve. Is she deliberately flouting social convention in the outspoken way she talks and acts, or is she simply ignorant of them? When she strikes up an intimate friendship with an urbane young Italian, her flat refusal to observe the codes of respectable behaviour leave her perilously exposed. In Daisy Miller Henry James brilliantly dramatized the conflict between old-world manners and nouveau riche tourists, and created his first great portrait of the enigmatic and dangerously independent American woman, a figure who would come to dominate his later masterpieces."


  1. This is the only book I have ever read by Henry James. I read it because I was reading Reading Lolita in Tehran (which is very good) and she covers four western novels including Lolita, relating them to life for women in Iran at that time.

  2. Oh yes, I remember Reading Lolita in Tehran and there are quite a few books on her list that I meant to read. That was a wonderful book.

    So, how did you like this one?

    1. I read it in 2004 and checking my reading log, I don't see that I even wrote anything about it. I felt it was a good story, I made it through James's writing style but it did not make me want to read more by Henry James. I did rather like Daisy though.

    2. Yes, I must say, I do prefer Dickens but I think James also brings us some great information of life in the mid 19th century.