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The Portrait of a Lady (Penguin Classics)by Henry James
Synopses & Reviews
The Portrait of a Lady provides an excellent introduction to the subtle, refined, and complex world of Henry James. Unlike any author before or since, James delved deeper into the hidden worlds of his characters, in order to explore the toils and delights of their inner lives. In The Portrait of a Lady, James tells the story of one of his most enchanting heroines, Isabel Archer, a young woman from New York State whose life is changed when she is visited by her aunt, Mrs. Touchett, following the death of her father (her mother having died long before). Mrs. Touchett, who is an expatriate American living in Florence, invites Isabel to accompany her back to Europe, where everyone she meets is fascinated by her beauty, her intelligence, and her vivacity. Mr. Touchett, her uncle, makes a generous provision for her in his will, but this turns out to have unexpected and undesired consequences.
In this portrait of a "young woman affronting her destiny," Henry James created one of his most magnificent heroines, and a story of intense poignancy. When Isabel Archer, a beautiful, spirited American, is brought to Europe by her wealthy aunt, it is expected that she will soon marry. But Isabel, resolved to enjoy her freedom, does not hesitate to turn down two eligible suitors. Then she finds herself irresistibly drawn to the charming and cultivated Gilbert Osmond. Isabel, however, soon discovers the cruelty and stifling darkness beneath Gilbert's civilized veneer.
About the Author
Henry James (1843-1916) is the author of such classic novels as Daisy Miller, The Golden Bowl, and Washington Square.
Philip Horne is a professor of English at University College London.
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