The Portrait of a Lady
One of the great heroines of American literature, Isabel Archer, journeys to Europe in order to, as Henry James writes in his 1908 Preface, “affront her destiny.” James began The Portrait of a Lady without a plot or subject, only the slim but provocative notion of a young woman taking control of... show more
One of the great heroines of American literature, Isabel Archer, journeys to Europe in order to, as Henry James writes in his 1908 Preface, “affront her destiny.” James began The Portrait of a Lady without a plot or subject, only the slim but provocative notion of a young woman taking control of her fate. The result is a richly imagined study of an American heiress who turns away her suitors in an effort to first establish—and then protect—her independence. But Isabel’s pursuit of spiritual freedom collapses when she meets the captivating Gilbert Osmond. “James’s formidable powers of observation, his stance as a kind of bachelor recorder of human doings in which he is not involved,” writes Hortense Calisher, “make him a first-class documentarian, joining him to that great body of storytellers who amass what formal history cannot.”
Publish date: February 12th 2002
Publisher: Modern Library
Pages no: 640
Edition language: English
I'm sure this is one of those books that is supposed to be studied for greater meanings, but I didn't do that. I'm so aggravated at Isabel. She had so many people in her corner and still ends up with a POS man. I love her sweet cousin.
Henry James is a difficult author to love, but an easy author to admire. Portrait of a Lady has many of the standard features of a 19th century novel. It has proposals, bad marriages, trips to exotic locations and sordid secrets. Also like many 19th century novels it is too long. James prose is ...
Well, I have to say that I finished this book the day after Back to the Future Day (which is probably not the best way to have celebrated that day, though it was quite interesting to note that my Facebook feed was flooded with news stories of how Marty McFly was arrested in multiple locations). In f...
When we first meet Isabel, she is in the prime of her youth—beautiful, irresistible to men (every male character seems to eventually fall in love with her), intelligent, poised, vibrant, hungry for life, and marching to her own drums. She has all the potential to be an exceptional woman. To remove t...
“Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” “..she was very particular about the appearance of her linen” “it (i.e. the step) had an inquisitive, experimental quality which suggested that it would not st...