The Ambassadors is a 1903 novel by Henry James, originally published as a serial in the North American Review (NAR). The novel is a dark comedy which follows the trip of protagonist Lewis Lambert Strether to Europe in pursuit of Chad Newsome, his widowed fianc e's supposedly wayward son; he is to bring the young man back to the family business, but he encounters unexpected complications. The third-person narrative is told exclusively from Strether's point of view.
Lambert Strether, a middle-aged, yet not broadly experienced, man from Woollett, Massachusetts, agrees to assume a mission for his wealthy fianc e: go to Paris and rescue her son, Chad Newsome, from the clutches of a presumably wicked woman. On his journey, Strether stops in England and there meets Maria Gostrey, an American who has lived in Paris for years. Her cynical wit and worldly opinions start to rattle Strether's preconceived view of the situation.
In Paris, Strether meets Chad and is impressed by the much greater sophistication Chad seems to have gained during his years in Europe. Chad takes him to a garden party, where Strether meets Marie de Vionnet, a lovely woman of impeccable manners, separated from her reportedly unpleasant husband, and Jeanne, her exquisite daughter. Strether is confused as to whether Chad is more attracted to the mother or the daughter. At the same time, Strether, himself, feels an overwhelming attraction to Marie de Vionnet, which he suspects she might requite, and so begins questioning his commitment to return to Woollett and marry Chad's mother, despite his admiration for her.