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Portrait of a Lady
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Top Customer Reviews
Isabel Archer, one of James's most fully drawn characters, has postponed a marriage in America for a year of travel abroad, only to discover upon her precipitate and ill-considered marriage to an American living in Florence, that it is her need to be independent that makes her marriage a disaster. Gilbert Osmond, an American art collector living in Florence, marries Isabel for the fortune she has inherited from her uncle, treating her like an object d'art which he expects to remain "on the shelf." Madame Serena Merle, his long-time lover, is, like Osmond, an American whose venality and lack of scruples have been encouraged, if not developed, by the European milieu in which they live.
James packs more information into one paragraph than many writers do in an entire chapter.Read more ›
With Isabel's dilemma American writer Henry James deals with the conflict between society and individual longings. Many writers have dealt this issue -- but only a few succeeded with such grace and competence as this author. The point is that Isabel is not the only one dealing with this problem. As a matter of fact, all characters of this novel, at some point in their life have to face the society against their personal wishes.
James was a master of psychological development. Not a single character in this novel is unrealistic. The cast of supporting characters is as deep as Isabel. With his talent, the writer explores the psychological conflict is a result of the society pressures against the characters beliefs -- and not a gratuitous philosophy like many writers usually do. The depth brings another pleasure in the reading of the novel.
Language is usually the main barrier for contemporary readers, when it comes to classic novels. With James it is a problem that can be easily overcome. His use of language however sophisticated is not difficult. His choice of words and structures are conscious and beautiful. The first chapters tend to be read slowly, but once the readers get the hang of James' prose, reading becomes an undeniable pleasure.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a great book it had a good story line and plot. The characters flowed together nicely. It has suspense and a very dramatic tone. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Marie Marksbury
The content itself needs little review as most know that this is Henry James' masterpiece. My review is concerned with the edition which is part of the Penguin Clothbound Classics... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Alicia
Henry James is a gifted storyteller. He paints images in your mind with words. The words create the times and places he describes. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Linda Taft
James is a great writer; the style can seem dated, but one may consider this part of its charm. The novel is both a view into European society in the late 19th Cent and into the... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Agrippas
I enjoyed this story very much. The ending was a bit abrupt but in keeping with the story.Published 7 months ago by Cynthia Hoelscher
No offense to Mr. James, but I really didn't like this book. The first 1/3 was good, but after that I lost interest.Published 8 months ago by Melissa Gilbert
I feel impertinent "reviewing" this magnificent novel, but so it is. The central character, Isabel Archer, may or may not eventually stand for the fallacies embodied in the... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Pamela Mccorduck
Dear Amazon, I am a major fan. I hope you will consider this comment as constructive criticism.
I keep finding typos in my kindle books. Read more