Thursday, September 12, 2013

Daisy Miller by Henry James

What an enchanting story!!

At the beginning of each school year, I give my 12th grade, AP, English students, a list of books that are not required readings, but books that I think are worth reading. This year, we went through the list, and we circled all of the books that we have read. I challenged the students to join me in reading at least five books from this list by the end of the school year, and it must be books that we have never read before. Many said that they do not have the time, and a few said that they would take me up on the challenge.

Well, I have already read my first book from this list, and I proudly let them know. Yep, teachers like to boast too....

Just like Of Mice and Men, Daisy Miller is a novella, it is longer than a short story and shorter than a novel. James writes this novella in a manner that makes the reader anxious to read the next page.

He introduces this character named Winterbourne, who is an American who traveled from Geneva to Switzerland to stay with his sick aunt. While in Switzerland, he runs into an American family who is also visiting Switzerland. The family includes a brother and sister, Randolph and Daisy, and their mother, Ms. Daisy. Mr. Miller has died and left his family lots of money, and they spend most of their time traveling.

Winterbourne is completely smitten with Daisy even though she is unlike European women; she is spontaneous and uncultivated. Because Daisy's free-spirit is viewed as a negative quality in Europe, Winterbourne's aunt, Mrs. Costello, does not approve of Daisy at all.

Daisy and her family leave for Rome and Winterbourne follows them there and is quickly told that Daisy has been openly dating quite a few men, and she is the talk of the town. People try and warn Daisy that she is hurting her reputation, and she pays them no mind.

One night, Winterbourne sees her out with a guy, and he is concerned that she will get malaria, and he urges her to go home. Sure enough, Daisy gets malaria and dies.

Reading this novella, I thought a lot about freedom, and you guys know how I value freedom. Daisy, exercised freedom and decided that no matter what was proper in European, she would stick to her American ways. However, we all know that freedom must be used responsibly, and there is a high price to pay when it is not. Freedom used irresponsibly, cost Daisy her life.

This is a short read that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I think that you may also...Try It!

My next read is titled Under the Feet of Jesus by Helena Maria Viramontes. An excerpt from this book was featured on the 2012 AP literature exam. I loved the excerpt so much until I figured that I might as well read the entire story.....

Happy Thursday!

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