- Paperback: 742 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 6, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1544215797
- ISBN-13: 978-1544215792
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 333 customer reviews
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Portrait of a Lady Paperback – March 6, 2017
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
333 customer reviews
Review this product
Showing 1-4 of 333 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Isabel Archer is truly one of literature's great heroines: I did not want to like her, but she is an irresistible force, and once you've been introduced, you'll never want to forget her or this book.
Fortunately this Kindle edition of ‘Portrait of a Lady – Volume 1) is excellent and I have not complaints what so every. I actually found that reading it on my Paper White was as nearly as pleasurable as reading a nicely done hard copy.
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James is one of those books that can truly be called a ‘classic’ and few would argue this point. Many books can be read relatively fast and this one can be read that way also but do take note: This is one of those books that you want to slow down when reading it and savor each line. You want to get to know the heroine and by following the story closely you can learn much of why we are the way we are to this very day.
This book is pure reading pleasure and it is one that most people I know (myself included) will want to give multiple reads.
It should be noted also that the Kindle is ideal for people like me who do no speak French and the on-line dictionary provided was wonderful.
The plot revolves around Isabel Archer, a young American who wishes to assert her independence and experience the world, an ambition that leads her to turn down excellent marriage proposals from the English aristocrat Lord Warburton and the rich American industrialist Caspar Goodwood. She is befriended in her sojourn by Mme Merle, a widow who in many ways is the woman that Isabel aspires to become. Mme Merle, in turn, introduces Isabel to Gilbert Osmond, an ambitious but relatively poor American living in Florence with his daughter Pansy, whose interest in Isabel as a person is difficult to disentangle from his interest in the fortune she inherited from her rich uncle near the book's beginning. The Portrait of a Lady is a long novel, but it never sags because of the way James divides up the story into different narrative arcs: Isabel's initial impressions of Europe, for instance, the encounters with her suitors, and so on.
Isabel's problems emerge from the contradictions of her own romantic nature. Her ideas about life are drawn largely from the novels she has read, and she uncritically equates emotional stimulation with experience. She is also, as her friend Henrietta Stackpole observes, someone who is too eager to please, willing to sacrifice herself to avoid the displeasure of others. James examines how this kind of quixotic character, while immensely charming in some ways, is turned into a puppet by those with a more clear-eyed view of the world. Indeed, the entire plot is built on an intricately woven web of lies and deceit that is somehow simple and yet, because of the genius for ambiguity with which James infuses both his characters and his prose, remains psychologically complex. My favorite example is when Isabel asks Mme Merle, "What have you to do with me?" and the latter replies: "Everything." Thus, Mme Merle confesses her deceitfulness (which the reader, but not Isabel, knows about all along), and yet does so in a manner that is so void of details, so utterly opaque that it tells us nothing more.
The Victorian era was a time of stifling conformity, and often this atmosphere can force novels from that period into having an unhappily forced conventional ending (see my review of Lady Audley's Secret, for instance). In this book, though, James turns that premise on its head, so that it is not the strange and subversive that the readers finds threatening, but rather the return to normality and the enforcement of the marriage contract. James pays lip service to the conventional Victorian ending, but it is a conclusion that is so chilling, so upsetting, that readers can only look upon it as a tragedy. The Portrait of a Lady does require some patience, but it is without doubt one of the greatest novels of all time.