Henry James Daisy Miller (1878).
'Here comes my sister!' cried the child, in a moment. 'She's an American girl.'
Poor naïve Daisy Miller, who comes to a bad end after trying to shake up the good ol' Anglo-European mores of Vevey and Rome with her youthful and loose American ways: "She was a young lady whom a gentleman need no longer be at pains to respect."
This novella is a beautifully written, albeit not cheery read. James perfectly captures the young Americans' voices:
...Randolph... continued to supply information with regard to his own family... 'My father ain't in Europe; my father's in a better place than Europe.'Winterbourne imagined for a moment that this was the manner in which the child had been taught to intimate that Mr Miller had been removed to the sphere of celestial rewards. But Randolph immediately added, 'My father's in Schenectady. He's got a big business. My father's rich, you bet.'
The descriptions of Rome make me long to be back there:
It seemed to him that Rome had never been so lovely as just then. He stood looking off at the enchanting harmony of line and colour that remotely encircles the city, inhaling the softly humid odours and feeling the freshness of the year and the antiquity of the place reaffirm themselves in mysterious interfusion.
And oh such an apt death for the young American social martyr, catching malaria ('Roman fever') while sitting at the foot of the great cross in the Colosseum (one can't do this nowadays; allegedly one can't catch malaria in Rome either) and being buried in that most beautiful of resting places, the Protestant Cemetery (with Keats and a few bits and pieces of Shelley).
Photos by the author, Feb. 2010 (Top: Colosseum; Bottom: Protestant Cemetery)
If you liked this... I'm going to read more Henry James. But I don't think I liked Portrait of a Lady. Oh dear. Maybe The Golden Bowl. And do read that Edith Wharton short story 'Roman Fever' (I read it in That Kind of Women: Stories from the Left Bank and Beyond, edd. B. Adams & T. Tate; Virago, 1991).