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The Portrait of a Lady - Volume 2

Henry James

Book Overview: 

The Portrait of a Lady is a novel by Henry James is the story of a spirited young American woman, Isabel Archer, who “affronts her destiny” and finds it overwhelming. She inherits a large amount of money and subsequently becomes the victim of Machiavellian scheming by two American expatriates. Like many of James’s novels, it is set mostly in Europe, notably England and Italy.

Generally regarded as the masterpiece of his early phase of writing, this novel reflects James’s absorbing interest in the differences between the New World and the Old. It also treats in a profound way the themes of personal freedom, responsibility, betrayal, and sexuality.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . forehead and then on each cheek as if according to some ancient prescribed rite. She drew the visitor to a sofa and, looking at her with a variety of turns of the head, began to talk very much as if, seated brush in hand before an easel, she were applying a series of considered touches to a composition of figures already sketched in. "If you expect me to congratulate you I must beg you to excuse me. I don't suppose you care if I do or not; I believe you're supposed not to care—through being so clever—for all sorts of ordinary things. But I care myself if I tell fibs; I never tell them unless there's something rather good to be gained. I don't see what's to be gained with you—especially as you wouldn't believe me. I don't make professions any more than I make paper flowers or flouncey lampshades—I don't know how. My lampshades would be sure to take fire, my roses and my fibs to be larger than life. I'm very glad for my own sake that you're to marry. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Ugh.

If I could describe this book in one word it would be "Laborious."

If I were allowed more space, which apparently I am, I would go on to say that in addition to being deathly slow and horrifically boring it is also a little brilliant, a little impressive, and, if you have the patience to look fo

Ugh, ech, the elitism that breeds in readers! We think we're such nicey cosy bookworms and wouldn't harm a fly but we seethe, we do. Of course, readers of books just naturally look down on those who don't read at all. In fact they try not to think of those people (nine tenths of the human race I sup

Book Review

3+ out of 5 stars for The Portrait of a Lady, a classic story called the "Great American Novel," written by Henry James in 1881. I adore Henry James and found great enjoyment in his literary works when I began reading him in my freshmen year at college. As an English major, I

Henry James would probably get on well with Thomas Hardy The Portrait of a Lady is a tragedy almost of Tess of the d'Urbervilles proportions.

Character study novels are extraordinary things, the plot is mostly fairly mundane but when you get to really know the characters when they resonate with you,

10 Things I Love About Henry James’s The Portrait Of A Lady

1. Isabel Archer
The “lady” in the title. Beautiful, young, headstrong and spirited, the American woman visits her wealthy relatives in England, rejects marriage proposals by two worthy suitors, inherits a fortune and then is manipulated into

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