Daisy Miller by Henry James


I signed up for a class next semester called “American Literature: Realism to Present” and the teacher emailed the class recently, saying that we could read the longer works over break if we wanted. One of those longer works was Daisy Miller, a short novella by Henry James. I’m hoping to read the other two books on the list before school starts up again, but we’ll see if that’ll happen.

Rating: [3/5]

Summary: Daisy Miller is a young, innocent, and chatty girl from America visiting Europe on a tour with her family. Every gentleman she meets is immediately taken with her, including Frederick Winterbourne: a young American man who has lived in Geneva most of his life. Though Winterbourne pursues her unfailingly–even following her and her family to Rome–he is confused by Daisy’s flirty and uninhibited demeanor. Soon, her attitudes cause her to be rejected by the society she so craves to be a part of.

Likes: It’s a very short little story and pretty simple to follow. I like Daisy a lot as a character. If the story were written now, she would probably be classified as a manic pixie dream girl. It touches on a lot of ideas about cultural differences and what’s acceptable or unacceptable in different places.

Dislikes: There wasn’t much of a plot to propel the story forward, other than figuring out what would happen with Winterbourne and Daisy. However, the story was short enough that this wasn’t much of an issue. If the book was longer, it probably would have been a pain to keep going.

TL;DR: It’s a short, simple book that touches on cultural differences in the late 1800s. I would say it’s a good introduction to modern American literature.


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