Classics Challenge - The Europeans

Who would have thought that the Novella selection would be one of my hardest to pick? I had planned to read 1984. It is one of several books that has been in my tbr pile for far too long. But I realized that it, along with several of the others, have stayed in the tbr pile because I have no actual desire to read them. I want to want to read them but when it comes to picking them up and reading them, I'm just not interested. So then I tried The Vicar of Wakefield. It wasn't necessarily bad but it wasn't very interesting and despite its short length, I was not making much progress. So I tried again! And this time, my choice stuck...and now for that choice.

The Europeans might be my first Henry James*. Unlike my failed attempts at a Novella, this one was a pleasant read. Not much happens. Basically, two siblings (the Europeans) come to America and stay with some relations. Eventually, some people may or may not get married. Between those things, people do a lot of talking. Yep, that's about it.

It's really more of a character study and in that it does a great job. It's not clear at the beginning, exactly who we are supposed to root for. Is Ms. X good? Or Mr. Y? Even at the end, one can't really divide everyone into a good column and a bad column although if forced, the good column would probably be much fuller. This makes it excellent for thinking about the individual decisions and personalities and conversations. So it is fun on a light superficial level and if you want to go a bit deeper.

Having said that, I'm not sure I totally understand the ending. I mean, I can tell you what happens but I feel like their is some lesson that I'm supposed to have learned but don't quite get. I wonder if I looked it up on Clif Notes if there would be a sentence explaining the moral but I don't really have a desire to spoil my reading experience by doing that. Perhaps I'm just trying to read to much into it.

The Europeans is in the public domain and available for free from gutenberg.org. It was my Back to the Classics Challenge Novella selection.

* I am not sure if I have read The Turn of the Screw or not. I didn't think I had but I picked up Craig's library book of short stories one day and started it and while I couldn't remember what happened next, everything I read seemed awfully familiar. But then he returned it and I was never able to finished it/find out. Perhaps I should.

1 comment :

  1. The ending had that "I don't have enough material for another chapter and my publisher demands a certain length, so let's wrap it up here" feeling. I think the moral might be "Try to be happy, and you will succeed." Or "Try to be a snobby European, and you will end up alone and bitter." Either way, it was an enjoyable read once I was able to relax from reading Edith Wharton. I probably should have read something light and fluffy between Glimpses of the Moon and this book!