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Extended Audio Sample The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.57 out of 54.57 out of 54.57 out of 54.57 out of 54.57 out of 5 4.57 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Henry James Narrator: Wanda McCaddon Publisher: Craig Black Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Beautiful, spirited Isabel Archer, an American heiress newly arrived in Europe, is widely expected to quickly marry. But Isabel does not look to a man to furnish her with destiny; instead she desires, with grace and courage, to find it herself. Two eligible suitors are refused in favor of her pursuit of glorious independence. But then, Isabel becomes utterly captivated by the languid charms of the cunning Gilbert Osmond. To him, she represents a superior prize to be won; through him, she faces a tragic choice.

A subtle and poignant psychological novel of love and betrayal, The Portrait of a Lady is widely considered to be James’ masterpiece. F.R. Leavis declared that “we can’t ask for a finer exhibition of James’ peculiar gifts.”

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The masterpiece of the first phase of James's career…offers a shrewd appraisal of the American character and embodies the national myth of freedom and equality hedged with historical blindness and pride.”

    Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

  • “This book isn’t about the disappointments that inhere in the traditional marriage plot. It’s about what a woman does when she begins to acknowledge her own complicity in the life she has chosen…Isabel shows us that our bad decisions do not end our story. They begin it.”


  • “Richly perceptive.”

    New York Times

  • “Isabel Archer…is an impressive figure, and one follows her in her free flight with so much admiration for her resolution and strong pinions that when she is caught in the meshes of Osmond’s net one’s indignation is moved, and a noble pity takes the place of frank admiration…Mr. James is at great pains to illustrate his characters by their attitudes, their movements, their by-play, yet we carry away but a slight impression of their external appearance; these are not bodily shapes, for the most part, but embodied spirits.”

    Atlantic, 1882

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Lenore | 5/19/2011

    " I read this in my 20s while in Paris. My boyfriend and I only had the one copy between us, so I would read a page, then tear it out and give it to him. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Beth | 4/27/2011

    " I'm not a writer, just a reader and I loved this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Tessa | 4/18/2011

    " if it weren't for the last third of this book, it'd be a five. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Trish | 4/17/2011

    " Sadly beautiful and well worth the time. "

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