Considered one of the most prolific author of his time, Henry James is, first and foremost a realist - aiming to create stories that can be as easily identifiable by his readers as possible. The Portrait of a Lady is, without a doubt, one of James' most popular and well-received novels, even among modern readers. Focusing on the life of a young American woman known by the name of Isobel Archer, the novel depicts her journey through Britain and Europe, as well as her interaction with European society and her struggle to battle its tendency to restrict her freedom.
After the death of her father, Isobel is initially invited to London by her aunt, Lydia Touchett. At the estate, she meets the rest of her family and draws the attention of Lord Warburton and Caspar Goodwood, both of whom extend their marriage proposal to the young lady. Unwilling to relinquish her freedom, Isobel declines both offers, and later sets out to travel through Europe. Her freedom is far from being kept safe, however, as she is soon found in a challenging situation that requires her to use her full strength of character in order to navigate through it.
Henry James rises to new heights in this novel, as he uses familiar techniques to bring focus on the main character and her unique perspective. The narrative converges on Isobel, without, however, ignoring any of the other characters. A complex plot line, intelligent dialogues and characters whose psychological dimension defies any concept of predictability, are just a few of the outstanding elements that James uses to "paint" his novel into an inescapably fascinating and thrilling tale.
Even readers from the modern age will be completely captivated by the strong heroine, whose strength and discernment are melded with several remarkably human qualities. Join Isobel in her journeys and pursuits throughout The Portrait of a Lady - a novel still considered by many to be one of the best ever written.
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