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Paperback Portrait of a Lady Book

ISBN: 0460875884

ISBN13: 9780460875882

Portrait of a Lady

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Book Overview

The Portrait of a Lady is Henry James's classic novel featuring the strong and spirited Isabel Archer, the embodiment of women's independence and strength. The heroine of this powerful novel, often... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

I don't have this book

I would gladly write a review of this book but I have not received this book. I have gone through every book that I purchase from you.Because I keep them all on one shelf.And this book is not in there. It states, I ordered it on February the fourth if I've ordered it, which I'm pretty sure I did.I have not received it or I would gladly write a review

A great classic novel!

I really enjoyed this book,. I read it a few years ago, and it really stuck with me. I would give it more stars if I could. It is so very well written and interesting to read.

Beautifully Tragic

Henry James is one of my favorite authors and The Portrait of a Lady is one of his greatest works. In it, he creates a unique and unforgettable heroine, Isabel Archer, and then proceeds to let her make all the mistakes the young are capable of making. In fact, Isabel is so sure of herself that, at times, I found it difficult to have much sympathy for her poor choices. But one thing I never felt for Isabel Archer was indifference, all to James' credit.The Portrait of a Lady is truly 19th Century literature at its finest, but that means it also contains elements that might be distracting for the modern reader. There are lengthy descriptions, the pace is rather slow and James never lets us forget we are reading a book. He makes liberal use of phrases such as "our heroine," and "Dear Reader." While all of this was expected in the 19th Century, some readers today might find it annoying.Those who don't however, will find themselves entranced by a beautiful story of love and loss, unforgettable characters (there are many more besides Isabel, most notably the enigmatic Madame Merle) and gorgeous description, all rendered in James' flawless prose.Anyone who loves classics or who wants a truly well-rounded background in literature cannot afford to pass this up.

Modern Storytelling at its best

The best thing about 19th century novels is that they take so long to unwind, you know that you are guaranteed a long and satisfying trip into a story. I initially bought this book after seeing the Jane Campion film, (which I actually wasn't too crazy about)but I always think it's a good idea to read the source material. After a few false starts (warning: one needs to devote all their attention to James in order to enjoy him)I finally got into this book, and couldn't put it down. From the great settings of the novel, to the variety of fascinating characters (the liberated Henrietta Stackpole, the sinister Madame Merle, the beloved Ralph Touchett, Ralph's eccentric mother, the flighty Countess Gemini, the deadly Gilbert Osmond, and of course, Isabel Archer herself... James gives characters great names as well) "Portrait" is a great novel not only of self discovery, but self deception. How many of us in this world have liked to have thought ourselevs as free to make our own chocies, and were excited by a future full of "possibility" only to allow something (or usually someone) to get in our way and make us realize just how quickly we can lose our freedom and be in a cage that we need to get out of. (Pardon my bad grammar.) Those of you looking fora Jane Austen type ending, this may not be the book for you, but I think this book is more of a spiritual cousin to Austen than we may think. It all comes down to making choices, and teh effects of those decisions. Throw off any reservations that you may have because this book was written over a century ago, it's as fresh, funny, tragic and riveting today as it was then. (And hey, buy the film soundtrack which perfectly captures the mood of the story for accompaniment..that was a plug!)

Exquisite if not Intriguing, Elegant if not Swift

Henry James is not known for his swift pace in world literature; instead, along w/ his psychiatrist brother, Henry James never fails to frame the fragility of human spirit with an elegant touch, weaving the psyche into one continuous stream of thoughts. In this stunning achievement of his, James portrays a young, ingenuous American heiress, Isabel Archer, who comes to Europe looking for ways to escape commonality of her old life. Intelligent and rebellious, Isabel soon finds herself entrapped in a society where one might not soar as high even with an impressive fortune as the one she has inherited. It is her wish to avoid the common lot that leads her astray: first refusing a good nobleman, then bestowing herself on a mysterious stranger for the sake of "tasting reality". Not knowing the consequence of such a fateful entanglement, Isabel refuses advice from her earnest but sickly cousin and eccentric but wise aunt to consent to a devious dilettante, seducer who hunts her down with the appeal of a poor man in want of sympathy. This is where James so skillfully masters the art of psychology--in one aspect the readers are drawn to share in Isabel's subtle fall into an abyss of shapeless pain, in another apsect, we as readers cannot help but denounce Isabel's pompous intelligence that leads her further away from the truth which her pride prevents her from seeing. The moral of her tragedy (which includes further entanglement with an American beau, her cousin, her step-daughter, an all-American girl-friend, and a dark motherly figure whose relationship w/ Isabel's husband remains a mystery for you to discover), is that in a process of seeking happiness through pain, through seeking out suffering to justify her wealth, Isabel loses sight of a reality that may be ruled by one thing and one thing only--fate.
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