Eugenia, an American expatriate brought up in Europe, arrives in rural New England with her charming brother Felix, hoping to find a wealthy second husband after the collapse of her marriage to a German prince. Their exotic, sophisticated airs cause quite a stir with their affluent, God-fearing American cousins, the Wentworths and provoke the disapproval of their father, suspicious of foreign influences. The arrival of the frivolous, handsome Felix is especially enchanting to Gertrude Wentworth, who is struggling against her sombre puritan upbringing. One of Henry James's most optimistic novels, The Europeans (1878) is a subtle and gently ironic examination of manners and morals, deftly portraying the impact of Old World experience on New World innocence.
Henry James was born in 1843 in New York City. In 1875 he settled for a year in Paris, where he met Flaubert, Turgenev and other literary figures. The next year he moved to London, but in 1898 he left to live at Lamb House, Rye, Sussex. Henry James became an English citizen in 1915, and died in 1916. He wrote about twenty novels, among which we remember Washington Square, The Portrait of a Lady, The Bostonians, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl.