The Portrait of a Lady

  • by Henry James
  • Narrated by John Wood
  • 23 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

When Isabel Archer, a beautiful, spirited American, is brought to Europe by her wealthy aunt Touchett, it is expected that she will soon marry. But Isabel, resolved to enjoy the freedom that her fortune has opened up and to determine her own fate, does not hesitate to turn down two eligible suitors.
It is only when she finds herself irresistibly drawn to the cultivated but worthless Gilbert Osmond that she discovers that wealth is a two-edged sword and that there is a price to be paid for independence.
With its subtle delineation of American characters in a European setting, The Portrait of a Lady is one of the most accomplished and popular of Henry James’s early novels.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

An American Jane Austen

I have read a few Henry James before but it was this book that really made me aware of the fact that he was the male, American version of Jane Austen but without the wit and insight.

The Portrait of a Lady is a tale of manners, of might bes and being careful of what you wish for. After several books recently I am beginning to wonder how the institution of marriage survived the Victorian times - none of them have been happy and most of the husbands were monsters, this marriage was another to add to the list.

I enjoyed it but it was very slow - beautifully slow in its accuracy to describe fully a room, a look or a thought but it did mean that the action was subdued, almost to the speed of molasses!

My biggest criticism of the book however was the narrator. John Wood is a lovely narrator and I hope to hear him again, but he was completely wrong for this book. Its an American view of English and ex-patriate life in Europe, to have it read by an Englishman who can't do an American accent or a woman's accent without it sounding like he's in drag, was very disappointing.

I felt mean giving this book only four stars but unfortunately that's all it deserved.
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- Neil Chisholm

Highly recommended

John Wood's narration is just about perfect. The "American" accents are not "realistic," but that is a minor quibble, especially as it is offset so well by the perfect rendition of the narrative voice. Wood clearly understands the arc of the novel as a whole, so each chapter, paragraph, sentence has the right tone and nuance; the little refracted ironies strewn about everywhere are nicely expressed. Best of all -- I say this without having heard other readings -- is that Wood reads slowly. He savors the words, and we have time to understand them. The production values and audio quality are fabulous. I echo Linda's comment: Please, Mr. Wood, record more James!
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- David

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-02-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios