Portrait of a Lady

James, Henry. The Portrait of a Lady. Random House, 1951.
James, Henry. The Portrait of a Lady. Read by Elizabeth McGovern. Naxos Audio, 2006.

Reason read: James celebrates a birthday in April. Read in his honor.

Did you ever meet a character so charming and fun that you wished you knew them in real life? I would have liked to pal around with Isabel Archer, American heiress and orphan. When her father dies, Isabel makes the journey to visit her aunt, Mrs. Touchett. Despite being outspoken and extremely independent, Isabel makes fast friends with her European cousin, Ralph, an older woman named Mrs. Merle and a few eligible bachelors who express an interest in Isabel. Everyone bores Isabel until she meets dashing suitor, Gilbert Osmond. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what she saw in him. Ignoring the warnings of her family and friends, Isabel throws caution to the wind and marries Mr. Osmond, only to discover he control over her is fueled by jealousy and greed. When he forbids her to see her dying cousin, I just about lost my mind. Who does that? Obviously, this is not the end of the story, but The Portrait of a Lady is a classic so you know what happens next.

Quotes I liked, “Ralph smokingly considered” (p 211). I don’t know what that means.

Author fact: James is lauded as one of the great American-British authors.

Book trivia: Portrait of a Lady is in two volumes with seamless chapter continuation.
Audio trivia: music plays between the chapters.

Nancy said: Pearl said that novels about female Americans abroad own a debt to Henry James for Isabel Archer.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “American Girls” (p 18).

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