Eugenia, an expatriated American, is the morganatic wife of a German prince, who is about to reject her in favor of a state marriage. With her artist brother Felix Young she travels to Boston to visit relatives she has never before seen, in hopes of making a wealthy marriage. The men of Boston soon realize her deceitfulness, and she returns to Europe, feeling that her fortune-hunting scheme is impractical in unsusceptible America.
Its wit, gaiety, and what Rebecca West calls its "clear sunlit charm" have made this masterly short novel the most popular of James's novels.
He is as solitary in the history of the novel as Shakespeare in the history of poetry.