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The Ambassadors | Chapter Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • Spring

    Lambert Strether arrives in England and makes the acquaintance of Maria Gostrey.

    Book 1, Chapter 1
  • That night

    Waymarsh agrees to accompany Strether on his mission.

    Book 1, Chapter 2
  • Next evening

    Strether tells Maria about his mission to bring Mrs. Newsome's son Chad back to America.

    Book 2, Chapter 1
  • Two days later

    Strether meets Little Bilham, Chad's roommate.

    Book 2, Chapter 2
  • Soon afterward

    Chad Newsome appears for the first time.

    Book 3, Chapter 2
  • Soon afterward

    At a garden party, Strether meets Madame de Vionnet and her daughter Jeanne.

    Book 5, Chapter 2
  • The same day

    Strether tells Bilham: "Live all you can; it's a mistake not to."

    Book 5, Chapter 2
  • Soon afterward

    Strether and Madame de Vionnet discuss Chad and Mrs. Newsome.

    Book 6, Chapter 1
  • A few weeks later

    Strether meets Madame de Vionnet by chance in Notre-Dame cathedral.

    Book 7, Chapter 1
  • Three days later

    Mrs. Newsome's telegram conveys an ultimatum to Strether.

    Book 7, Chapter 2
  • A few weeks later

    Sarah and Jim Pocock and Mamie arrive in Paris as the second group of so-called ambassadors.

    Book 8, Chapter 2
  • A few weeks later

    Sarah Pocock has a bitter showdown with Strether.

    Book 10, Chapter 3
  • A few days later

    Strether catches Chad and Madame de Vionnet in an intimate moment on the river.

    Book 11, Chapter 4
  • Soon afterward

    Strether bids farewell to Madame de Vionnet.

    Book 12, Chapter 2
  • The next day

    Strether bids Chad farewell.

    Book 12, Chapter 4
  • Immediately following

    Chad tells Strether he is returning to America to work in the Newsomes' business.

    Book 12, Chapter 4
  • Two days later

    Strether declines Maria Gostrey's proposal and bids her farewell.

    Book 12, Chapter 5

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Preface Henry James begins his preface to The Ambassadors by emphasizing a single specific scene as the core, or "germ," of the ... Read More
Book 1, Chapters 1–2 Lambert Strether arrives at his hotel in Chester, a small city in northern England near Liverpool, where he had disemb... Read More
Book 1, Chapter 3 The concluding chapter of Book 1 continues the narrative of the opening trio of characters in Chester: Strether, Waymars... Read More
Book 2, Chapters 1–2 The scene shifts from Chester to London, where Lambert Strether and Maria Gostrey go one night to the theater. Beforeh... Read More
Book 3, Chapters 1–2 Strether recounts to Waymarsh his visit to Chad's apartment building. The young man smoking on the balcony turns out t... Read More
Book 4, Chapters 1–2 The first chapter in Book 4 takes up the story exactly where Book 3 left off. After the play, Strether has a private c... Read More
Book 5, Chapters 1–2 Soon afterward, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, Chad arranges for Strether to attend a fashionable garden party hoste... Read More
Book 5, Chapter 3 Chad, occupied with social obligations, has dispatched Maria Gostrey to take care of Strether at the garden party, and s... Read More
Book 6, Chapters 1–2 The scene is Madame de Vionnet's residence on the Rue de Bellechasse, located in a fashionable neighborhood of Paris's... Read More
Book 6, Chapter 3 Madame de Vionnet reenters the scene. She tells Miss Barrace that she needs a private word with Strether. She then quest... Read More
Book 7, Chapters 1–2 Nearly two weeks after Strether's dinner visit to Chad's apartment, Strether worries about the change in his relations... Read More
Book 7, Chapter 3 Strether informs Maria Gostrey, who has now returned from her journey to Mentone, that Waymarsh has been in communicatio... Read More
Book 8, Chapters 1–2 In contrast to his hopeful anticipation at the end of Book 7, Strether now feels agitated about the Pococks' impending... Read More
Book 8, Chapter 3 The following day, Strether finds himself again with the Pococks, this time together with Waymarsh and Madame de Vionnet... Read More
Book 9, Chapters 1–2 A few days later, Strether visits Madame de Vionnet at her residence. They discuss the new detachment of ambassadors f... Read More
Book 9, Chapter 3 Still apprehensive about Sarah Pocock's failure to meet with him, Strether attempts to visit her at her hotel. She has g... Read More
Book 10, Chapters 1–2 The narrative centerpiece of this chapter is Chad's elaborate party at his apartment in honor of his sister Sarah. The... Read More
Book 10, Chapter 3 This final chapter in Book 10 narrates Sarah Pocock's long-awaited meeting with Strether. Sarah turns out to be icy, ins... Read More
Book 11, Chapters 1–2 Later the same night, Chad is not home at his apartment, so Strether waits until Chad arrives. He thinks about his pas... Read More
Book 11, Chapters 3–4 A few days after his meeting with Maria Gostrey, Strether catches a train for an all-day outing from Paris to the coun... Read More
Book 12, Chapters 1–2 The following day, Strether receives a message from Madame de Vionnet asking him to meet her at her Paris apartment in... Read More
Book 12, Chapters 3–4 Strether reviews the latest developments with Maria Gostrey. She explains to him that she deliberately absented hersel... Read More
Book 12, Chapter 5 In his final farewell, Strether visits Maria Gostrey at her residence for breakfast. Although Strether declares he has d... Read More
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