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The Ambassadors | [Henry James]

The Ambassadors

When Chadwick Newsome lingers too long in Paris, his mother, a wealthy New England widow, sends her fiancé, Lambert Strether, to fetch him home. Newsome refuses, extending his stay, while Strether finds himself lured by the intrigue of Parisian life. Published in 1903, The Ambassadors is regarded as a masterpiece of American fiction for its exceptional structure, its moral significance, and its depiction of the contrasting New and Old World cultures. Henry James considered this his finest novel.
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Publisher's Summary

When Chadwick Newsome lingers too long in Paris, his mother, a wealthy New England widow, sends her fiancé, Lambert Strether, to fetch him home. Newsome refuses, extending his stay, while Strether finds himself lured by the intrigue of Parisian life. Published in 1903, The Ambassadors is regarded as a masterpiece of American fiction for its exceptional structure, its moral significance, and its depiction of the contrasting New and Old World cultures. Henry James considered this his finest novel.

(P) JimCin Recordings

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.1 (41 )
5 star
 (10)
4 star
 (9)
3 star
 (7)
2 star
 (7)
1 star
 (8)
Overall
4.3 (6 )
5 star
 (3)
4 star
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3 star
 (1)
2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.4 (5 )
5 star
 (3)
4 star
 (1)
3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Donna brooklyn, NY, USA 10-12-09
    Donna brooklyn, NY, USA 10-12-09 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    297
    12
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    Overall
    "Worst narration ever"

    The book itself certainly isn't H.J.'s finest work, but I knew that going in. My rating of one star refers only to the reader. His reading is so halting and without inflection, I actually found myself scrolling back and repeating sections to attempt to grasp what was meant. It sounds as if every word came as a (disconnected) surprise to him. Honestly, it's atrocious. I am an avid (and usually patient) reader and listener, and for me to quit a book as I did this one is unheard of. Save yourself the irritation.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joyce San Diego, CA, USA 04-20-03
    Joyce San Diego, CA, USA 04-20-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    1
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    Overall
    "The ambassadors"

    enjoyed it very much. It is a great story and the reading is well done.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julia Pittsburgh, PA, USA 09-12-07
    Julia Pittsburgh, PA, USA 09-12-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    3
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    Overall
    "Maddening"

    This book is almost impossible to bear because it is James at his most ridiculously contradictory and virtually everything is learned through accounts of what the hero observes rather than through direct conversation or action. The narrator mostly sounds like a robot, but if you stick with it, the whole mess grows on you. James really can write.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gene Agoura Hills, CA, USA 11-02-03
    Gene Agoura Hills, CA, USA 11-02-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
    642
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    97
    41
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    9
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    Overall
    "Henry James to the nth"

    Beautifully read, with a satisfying emotional depth and the trademark Henry James indirectness. It took me a long time to get through this book because other things distracted me, but I always returned to it for something that one just can't get out of most fiction. Probably it's worth five stars, but I think that it is beyond many readers.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Washington DC, DC, United States 11-09-10
    Laura Washington DC, DC, United States 11-09-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    19
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    "Those are audio stars, not plot stars."

    I've read The Ambassadors several times in print. It's not an enjoyable novel. Sentences wind on forever. Character dialogue is difficult to follow and poorly attributed. The plot is slow, even glacial. I'm writing one of my dissertation chapters on this novel, and even I dread reading through it. So, if you're just looking for something fun to read, steer clear of this work. Instead, try one of James's earlier novels. Or, Eliot. Or Trollope. You get the idea.

    BUT if for some horrible reason you have no choice and you MUST read this book, then stick with the audio. The narrator adds breaks and emphasis where there are none in the book, and this makes the reading experience almost tolerable. So, in summary: listening is better than reading, but simply avoiding the novel is your best bet by far.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Brookline, MA, United States 08-17-10
    Douglas Brookline, MA, United States 08-17-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    5
    5
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    "servicable recording of James's greatest book"

    If you're prepared for a book written in James's late style, with its labyrinthine sentence structures etc., and plan to read it as well as listen to it, this could be a useful recording to you. The reader is pretty good, but the audio quality is often poor, as it is apparently transferred from old tapes. At times it even speeds up and slows down! Still, it was helpful to me in a first reading of the book, which I enjoyed immensely. Now I understand why many including James himself consider it his best novel.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcia St. Paul, MN, USA 01-15-07
    Marcia St. Paul, MN, USA 01-15-07 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    4
    1
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    Overall
    "Terrible Reader"

    The reader emphasizes the wrong words, making it almost impossible to follow the meaning of what he is reading. I always thought that if the book were good enough, the quality of the reading would not matter. I was wrong. I have listened to perhaps 100 books on tape or audio, and this is the first one I could not make it through due to the reader.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Shackelford 06-24-07 Listener Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
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    7
    2
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    Overall
    "Gave Up"

    I agree with the two above reviews- the reading style makes this one intolerable. One of the few books I regret renting. I hope this novel will come out on audio with another reader.

    6 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael New Orleans, LA, USA 07-02-08
    Michael New Orleans, LA, USA 07-02-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    6
    1
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    Overall
    "Un-listenable"

    The narrator reads like a pompous ass and pretty much ruins Henry James. On top of that, it sounds like it was recorded over a 1950's rural telephone connection.
    Bottom line: Un-listenable

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raquel Coventry, RI, USA 12-15-05
    Raquel Coventry, RI, USA 12-15-05 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    2
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    "The Ambassadors"

    Unfortunately I have to say that as much as I like Henry James I could not get through the book because the narrator has such a dull and stilted style of reading.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 10 results
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  • Claire
    Bradford, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
    8/8/08
    Overall
    "Speak and Spell"

    After 45 minutes, I could take it no longer. The narration of this book is AWFUL! It soulds like a speak and spell toy. There is no infection in this mans voice whatsoever. Don't waste your money on this version.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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