Lambert Strether hails from Woollett, Massachusetts, carrying with him roots of that soil that make him feel somehow as if he will be judged by his origin or that his home will be judged by his actions. He travels to Europe at the behest of his fiancé to persuade her erstwhile son, Chad Newsome, who has fallen under the influence of a French woman, to return home. Stopping off in England on the way to Paris intending to meet up with his friend Mr. Waymarsh, Lambert encounters an American expat, Maria Gostray. Lambert is looking for something more from Europe than the return of a wayward son; he is looking for the lives he might have lived and contemplating the life he might yet live. Although middle aged and a widower, he is less sophisticated than either Maria Gostray or Chad Newsome. The Ambassadors is an intimate, subtle book that challenges its reader then rewards with the beauty of its language and the depth of the story.— Deon Stonehouse
Introduction by Colm Tóibín
One of the final masterpieces from one of the world’s greatest authors, Henry James’s The Ambassadors is now available for the first time in a Modern Library edition, with a new Introduction by acclaimed novelist Colm Tóibín. A keenly observed tale of a man’s awakening to life, this dark comic novel follows Lewis Lambert Strether, a middle-aged widower, on a mission to Europe to convince his fiancée’s wayward son to forsake the pleasures of Paris and return to America. Rich with fin de siècle detail, The Ambassadors brims with finely drawn character portraits, including one of the Master’s most unforgettable heroines—the beguiling Madame de Vionnet. This was the novel that Henry James himself considered his finest, and no one is better equipped to put it into literary and historical context than Colm Tóibín, whose award-winning novel The Master depicted the inner life of James in the final years of the nineteenth century.
About the Author
Colm Tóibín was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of six novels including The Blackwater Lightship; The Master, winner of a Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and Brooklyn, winner of a Costa Book Award. Twice short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, Colm Tóibín is the Leonard Milberg Lecturer in Irish Studies at Princeton University and lives in Dublin and New York.