Liked It5 of 5 members found this review helpful
“Keep away from me with your Golden Bowls and your Wings of the Doves – give me “The Portrait of a Lady,” the great masterpiece of Henry James before he went off the deep end where few but the most intrepid grammarians could follow. Here, James’ exquisite ironies and gorgeous metaphors drip from...”see full review » see other reviews »
“One of the most enthralling and enchanting novels that I've read in a long, long time. The Portrait of a Lady is early Henry James (written in 1881), and as cliche as it may sound, it is a veritable masterpiece. There is simply so much going on within the covers of this elegantly crafted and sophisticated novel that it will take me a while to sort out my swirling thoughts and emotions upon finishing it. Simply put though, this is the story of the young American woman, Isabel Archer, and her voyage of self-discovery among the staid and traditional landscape of British and European society. Isabel's ability to 'choose', and the 'choices' she makes are the thread that is carefully woven throughout the novel, and it raises her stature as a fictional heroine, in my opinion, to the level of that of an Anna Karenina or Dorothea Brooke. The novel's Chapter Forty-Two--with Isabel, by herself, sitting in the darkened room thinking for most of the night--is perhaps the greatest psychological tour-de-force I've encountered in fiction. I reread that chapter probably four times in a row, and simply marveled at the creative genius that is Henry James in writing this novel and creating the character of Isabel Archer. Stunning stuff!
This is an immensely powerful and profound novel that I am going to reread again very soon. I want to reread it in conjunction with a reading of Michael Gorra's recent book, Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece, a runner-up for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for biography and autobiography. Give me a couple of weeks to reread The Portrait of a Lady and Gorra's book, and I'll be back in an effort to provide a more comprehensive review that will do justice to what just may be the 'Great American Novel'.”
“What an extreme disappointment! The beginning and middle of the book border on being tedious. The latter third hinted at possibilities and I was optimistically looking forward to a satisfying conclusion. How I misled myself! There is nothing redeeming, only regret of time wasted. A long novel of almost 600 pages. I would recommend it to only those who wish to accentuate negativity in their lives!
What a shame - there were some worthy characters developed, but for nothing.”
“I know it's a classic but too wordy for me.”Deborah L. Cummings wrote this review Monday, June 24, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Made it halfway through the audiobook, then called it quits. Enjoyed it for the most part. James is definitely a strong writer.”John Majors wrote this review Monday, June 3, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“It developed the characters so well and started ramping up in such a fine way that I am ridiculously disappointed in the end. The book went nowhere. And the characters found no conclusion. ”Docta wrote this review Saturday, February 16, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The first ever book I truly loved. ”Sarah Albertyn wrote this review Monday, February 4, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Henry James is a master at writing character driven social drama. In this infamous novel we have the story of Isabel Archer, a wide-eyed, curious young American who is brought to Europe by her rather eccentric aunt. Isabel’s spirited innocence is soon compromised by her own gullibility and this eventually leads to what might be presumed as her downfall. James exposes the eternal differences between an independent, headstrong America and the sophisticated, old-worldliness of Europe through his use of intricate character study. We meet the haves and the have nots, the authentic and the forged, the capable and the incapable, we are confronted with an almost endless array of contradictory personalities. We linger, as readers, between the refined traditions of European aristocracy and the effervescent liberty of the Americans. This is the romantic fate of a woman who deserves not to marry in order to follow her wonder and curiosity to the ends of the earth; however the conventions of society and the influences of sudden wealth alter that destiny. ”Vikki M wrote this review Wednesday, January 16, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“So, many, commas. And, so, looooooong. Not having a traditional plot isn't a bad thing when the inner mind of characters is explored fully. This novel was very psychological, but it was so precise that it became convoluted and contradictory. I got lost in the maze of character descriptions and missed Isabel's essence.
The intro was great though. I got excited after reading it, excited for the ending really. I kept hanging on, trudging through page after page hoping that the pace would pick up and I could get to the much awaited ending. I gave up around 150 pages in. If there's a great payoff at the end, I'm going to miss it. I doubt that payoff though. The beginning was psychologically muddy and I bet the promised ending is equally so.”
“A very long but enjoyable read. James analysis of human consciousness can be so involved that I lose track of his ideas. I found the forced submission of women as recently as the Victorian era in which the novel is set very hard to take. The question at the end is: Did Isabel return to her husband, Osmond, or did she rescue Pansy, his daughter by Madame Merle, and then leave Osmond.”MRS C WILSON wrote this review Sunday, January 13, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No