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Extended Audio Sample The Portrait of a Lady Audiobook, by Henry James Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.79 out of 53.79 out of 53.79 out of 53.79 out of 53.79 out of 5 3.79 (42 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Henry James Narrator: Wanda McCaddon Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2008 ISBN: 9781400176977
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The Portrait of a Lady is the most stunning achievement of Henry James’s early period—in the 1860s and ‘70s, when he was transforming himself from a talented young American into a resident of Europe, a citizen of the world, and one of the greatest novelists of modern times. A kind of delight at the success of this transformation informs this masterpiece.

When Isabel Archer, a young American woman with looks, wit, and imagination, arrives in Europe, she sees the world as “a place of brightness, of free expression, of irresistible action.” She turns aside from suitors who offer her their wealth and devotion to follow her own path. But that way leads to disillusionment and a future as constricted as “a dark narrow alley with a dead wall at the end.” In one of the most moving conclusions in modern fiction, Isabel makes her final choice.

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Quotes & Awards

  • The Portrait of a Lady is entirely successful in giving one the sense of having met somebody far too radiantly good for this world.”

    Rebecca West, British author, journalist, and literary critic

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cheryl S. | 11/1/2011

    " Like walking through a swamp filled with molasses to get to the story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patty | 10/30/2011

    " i read this once a year. each year it changes me and for the better. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Liz | 10/11/2011

    " It's hard to go wrong when you read Henry James. Loved this book. Yes, it moves a bit slowly, but when you finish this book you feel like you actually knew the characters and lived their lives. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 10/9/2011

    " Heavy going in places, but happy I stuck with it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carola | 10/5/2011

    " I read this for an American Literature class. I enjoyed it, in spite of some inital skepticism. James, is quite verbose but by the same token has beautiful ways of phrasing things to create a sense of the charater or the scene.
    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jacqueline | 10/3/2011

    " Absolutely adored this, except of course the ending but i think Henry James does that on purpose. Everything is always about doing the right thing even if one has to suffer for it.
    "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Katie | 9/27/2011

    " It rarely happens but I just couldn't get through this book. Sorry, Isabel Archer. I will never know what becomes of your quest for love and life as an American in Europe. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 9/25/2011

    " All I can say is that James is a psychological genius and I missed my subway stop while engrossed in his long passages. But the ending killed me, absolutely stunned me. Why did she go back?? "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joanne | 9/21/2011

    " I found myself rather annoyed with the characters and hated the ending. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marcelle | 9/19/2011

    " I'm used to older literature reading at a different pace, but wow, this book was slow. I'm guessing presenting a strong, decisive female lead was more revolutionary at the time this book was written, but for us today the plot is flat. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Angela | 9/16/2011

    " James is a master of dialogue, but the end did not satisfy me at all. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary Jo | 9/13/2011

    " Published in 1881, this book portrays the lives of expat Americans in Europe. The 1st half was a trial to get through, but paid off in the 2nd half. Interesting reflection of the state of marriage and women of that time. "

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

    " Sadly beautiful and well worth the time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Annemarie | 4/15/2011

    " At points this was difficult to read and felt a little dull. I'm certain others could read this book with pleasure, I didnt. But I would like to read it again with an eye for gender studies. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christa | 4/13/2011

    " My other all time favorite! A classic. I love the way Henry James writes and I could read this book over and over again. The characters are wonderful and Mr. James uses language so wonderfully! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ke | 4/9/2011

    " The story was beautifully told. All the characters had unique voices and points of view.

    I thought the Osmond character was a bit too mustache-twirling.

    Isabel had a feel of a horror film last girl. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lily | 3/23/2011

    " Thoroughly enjoyed it. Psychological character descriptions are layers and layers deep. Will remember many of the main characters, they are so intriguing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kelley | 3/16/2011

    " I really had a hard time reading this, as James writes with such a full use of the language. The characters are a bit stereotypical, but the story has enough plot twists to make it interesting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liz | 3/9/2011

    " Classic, however the fact that he spent a whole page on describing a tea pot will never leave my memory of this book! "

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About the Author
Author Henry James

Henry James (1843–1916), American novelist, short-story writer, and man of letters, was born in Washington Place, New York, to a family of distinguished philosophers and theologians. He attended schools in New York, Boston, and throughout Europe, where he later settled. A major figure in the history of the novel, he is celebrated as a master craftsman who brought his great art and impeccable technique to bear in the development of abiding moral themes.

About the Narrator

Wanda McCaddon (a.k.a. Nadia May or Donada Peters) has narrated well over six hundred titles for major audiobook publishers, has earned numerous Earphones Awards, and was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine.