Tuesday Tome Week 44 – Portrait of A Lady

Portrait of a Lady by Henry James is on the list of 32 novels recommended by Susan Wise Bauer in The Well-Educated Mind. You can get this book for free on Kindle or from your local library.

Portrait of a Lady

It represents an important novel in the Western history of literature, but it will not teach you so much that you will have to refer to it over and over again. I did not like the protagonist and the plot is sad. What’s worse, the author decided to give us an open end, which I dislike.

Just tell us how the story ends, please. If we all took the time to read your story, why don’t your give us the decency of an ending? Good or bad, we’ll take it, but let the story end. Don’t leave it up to us to imagine what she will do. 

Isabel Archer is an American young lady who comes to live with her aunt and uncle in England after she is orphaned. There, she refuses to marry the most eligible bachelor in England (what was she thinking?). Her cousin might also be interested but he is too sick to entertain thoughts of a future (she ends up loving him in the end, in her heart of hearts). Her American suitor – whom she left in limbo back home – also comes to England to pay court and she treats him badly. Who can understand her??

Of all these three alternatives, she chooses a fourth – a horrible scoundrel who marries her for her money. Add to that a few side stories of betrayal and you have a complete novel which can teach a few things about relationships.

Oh, and if you think you will just watch the 1996 movie starring Nicole Kidman and other great actors, don’t. The director took some major liberties and included some adult scenes which have nothing to do with the book. If your teenager begs to watch the movie instead of reading the book, it’s not a good idea.

Glad I read it, but not planning on re-reading it any time soon.


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