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The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

The Portrait of a Lady (1881)

by Henry James

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6,843None529 (3.91)8 / 491
1001 (53) 1001 books (49) 19th century (272) 19th century literature (37) American (167) American fiction (50) American literature (252) British (32) classic (285) classic fiction (44) Classic Literature (41) classics (269) Easton Press (33) England (47) English literature (32) Europe (38) fiction (1,095) Henry James (66) Italy (64) James (31) literature (233) novel (276) own (48) read (61) romance (30) to-read (146) unread (85) USA (42) Victorian (48) women (30)
  1. 40
    Howards End by E. M. Forster (carlym)
  2. 30
    Daniel Deronda by George Eliot (ncgraham)
    ncgraham: Surprised this recommendation hasn't already been made ... scholars throughout the years have noted Gwendolen Harleth's influence upon James in creating Isabel Archer.
  3. 41
    Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (roby72)
  4. 30
    The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (carlym)
  5. 10
    The Reef by Edith Wharton (noveltea)
  6. 11
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (Nickelini)
  7. 01
    Indian Summer by William Dean Howells (Bjace)
    Bjace: Howells ventures into Henry James territory with this tale of an American expatriate in Florence who is caught between two women. Howells teases the reader by starting to write a Henry James ending and then doing something quite different.

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English (64)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (67)
Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
  Bruno_Estigarribia | Mar 31, 2014 |
While the narrator is present in this work, said narrator manages not to intrude their opinion too much. However, the notion of a woman who's read too much seems rather offensive, but I'll regard it as a wry commentary on the time when it was written.
  Frenzie | Feb 19, 2014 |
What started as a Goodreads Group read, turned out to be a massive undertaking for me. A few years ago I made a resolution to finish everything I started reading...and out of all the books I've read since then, none of them came as close to forcing me to break that resolution as "The Portrait of a Lady". Tried to finish it, sat it back down several times. It's not a bad book, Henry James, the man can write...and I think that was one of the problems I had in finishing it...Henry James loves his vivid descriptions. So much so, at times, I would forget what was happening with the plot, he'd just go on and on, and not get to the point quickly enough for me. In other words, this would be the type of book I'd like to have on a desert island, if I had all the time in the world to enjoy reading all his extra little details. But with a busy life and a 2000-generation attention span, I had to set this one aside several times.

As for the plot, when you get down to it, lots of drama and secrets. However, I was really disappointed in the abrupt ending. Isabel Archer starts out as a young, wannabe-independent American woman, who happens to visit some wealthy family in Europe. After she is left an inheritance that could make her independence dreams come true, she is tricked into marrying a man with his own schemes. Based on her character's previous actions I really thought the story was building up to her leaving her husband or remaining married in name only and living as an independent woman (hey, it was her money), but I was wrong. I wouldn't feel so bad about being wrong if Henry James had used one of his vivid descriptions to explain what was going on in Isabel's mind, so I could have understood her decision. ( )
  vonze | Feb 6, 2014 |
Great story. James captures most women at some time in their lives. I read this in college years and years ago. Never warmed much to the movies, but ate this book up. Henry James-the novelist who wrote like a psychologist. His brother, William James, the psychologist who wrote like a novelist. I always think of this statement that my history teacher, Dr. Wingo, from college used to quote. ( )
  AnneSteph | Nov 14, 2013 |
EXTREMELY LONG, but the material is great! Isabel Archer remains a wonderful woman of literature, and James' stream of consciousness technique is superb when used with Isabel. ( )
  hanbridturner | Sep 25, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (80 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Henry Jamesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anderson, Charles R.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cohn, JanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edel, LeonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Luckhurst, RogerEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McGovern, ElizabethNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Millett, Fred B.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, GeoffreyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Toibin, ColmAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Updike, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea. There are circumstances in which, whether you partake of the tea or not—some people of course never do,—the situation is in itself delightful. Those that I have in mind in beginning to unfold this simple history offered an admirable setting to an innocent pastime. The implements of the little feast had been disposed upon the lawn of an old English country-house, in what I should call the perfect middle of a splendid summer afternoon. Part of the afternoon had waned, but much of it was left, and what was left was of the finest and rarest quality. Real dusk would not arrive for many hours; but the flood of summer light had begun to ebb, the air had grown mellow, the shadows were long upon the smooth, dense turf. They lengthened slowly, however, and the scene expressed that sense of leisure still to come which is perhaps the chief source of one’s enjoyment of such a scene at such an hour. From five o’clock to eight is on certain occasions a little eternity; but on such an occasion as this the interval could be only an eternity of pleasure. The persons concerned in it were taking their pleasure quietly, and they were not of the sex which is supposed to furnish the regular votaries of the ceremony I have mentioned. The shadows on the perfect lawn were straight and angular; they were the shadows of an old man sitting in a deep wicker-chair near the low table on which the tea had been served, and of two younger men strolling to and fro, in desultory talk, in front of him. The old man had his cup in his hand; it was an unusually large cup, of a different pattern from the rest of the set and painted in brilliant colours. He disposed of its contents with much circumspection, holding it for a long time close to his chin, with his face turned to the house. His companions had either finished their tea or were indifferent to their privilege; they smoked cigarettes as they continued to stroll. One of them, from time to time, as he passed, looked with a certain attention at the elder man, who, unconscious of observation, rested his eyes upon the rich red front of his dwelling. The house that rose beyond the lawn was a structure to repay such consideration and was the most characteristic object in the peculiarly English picture I have attempted to sketch.
Her reputation of reading a great deal hung about her like the cloudy envelope of a goddess in an epic.
It may be affirmed without delay that Isabel was probably very liable to the sin of self-esteem....
You are rich when you can meet the demands of your imagination.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141439637, Paperback)

When Isabel Archer, a beautiful, spirited American, is brought to Europe by her wealthy Aunt Touchett, it is expected that she will soon marry. But Isabel, resolved to determine her own fate, does not hesitate to turn down two eligible suitors. She then finds herself irresistibly drawn to Gilbert Osmond, who, beneath his veneer of charm and cultivation, is cruelty itself. A story of intense poignancy, Isabel's tale of love and betrayal still resonates with modern audiences.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:19 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Tells of the psychological impact of European culture upon a spirited young American girl named Isabel Archer when she becomes torn between three very different men and falls prey to the schemes of a sophisticated older woman.

» see all 17 descriptions

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Eight editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141441267, 0141199121

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