- A Novel
- Narrated by: Amy Finegan
- Length: 11 hrs and 42 mins
- Unabridged Audiobook
- Release date: 11-07-17
- Language: English
- Publisher: Random House Audio
Regular price: $31.50
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Isabel Archer is a young American woman swept off to Europe in the late 19th century by an aunt who hopes to round out the impetuous but naïve girl's experience of the world. When Isabel comes into a large, unexpected inheritance, she is finagled into a marriage with the charming, penniless, and - as Isabel finds out too late - cruel and deceitful Gilbert Osmond, whose connection to a certain Madame Merle is suspiciously intimate. On a trip to England to visit her cousin Ralph Touchett on his deathbed, Isabel is offered a chance to free herself from the marriage but nonetheless chooses to return to Italy. Banville follows James' story line to this point, but Mrs. Osmond is thoroughly Banville's own: the narrative inventiveness; the lyrical precision and surprise of his language; the layers of emotional and psychological intensity; the subtle, dark humor. And when Isabel arrives in Italy - along with someone else! - the novel takes off in directions that James himself would be thrilled to follow.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By CHRISTINE on 11-15-17
John Banville honors Henry James in devising an elegant continuation of “The Portrait of a Lady”
First, there is an excellent review of “Mrs. Osmond” by Caryl Phillips in The New York Review of Books, November 23, 2017. Audible might put a link to it on its website.
I do enjoy John Banville’s exquisite writing, and was wary of listening to it on the audio book, but found that the narrator did an excellent job of letting the language spool out, while articulating the differences in characters. As in the James novel, most of the narrative comprises Isabel’s interior thoughts. Slowly, Banville reveals how Isabel comes to wrest control for her destiny out of the hands of her husband, while leaving her next steps unresolved. For readers of Portrait of a Lady, this is compelling because despite our impatience with Isabel, we want her to succeed. Banville traces Isabel’s very human fits and starts of finding direction for herself, while leaving her future steps unresolved.
I found Mrs. Osmond’s narrative absorbing, and entertaining, despite wanting to scream at her occasionally. I enjoyed Banville’s finely drawn characterization of the other players, those from the James novel and some new ones.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Fate_D on 03-18-18
Clever Continuation of Henry James
After listening to five chapters of Mrs. Osmand, I realized my memory of The Portrait of a Lady didn’t seem adequate-although I could have continued because John Banville gives the reader very subtle segments of the necessary background for most of us.
It was really that my curiosity had been piqued: how would I react now to James’ 137 year old publication which I had read fifty years ago. So, after I listened to the samples of about four available on Audible, I chose a narrator with a masculine voice, in homage to Henry James.
Twenty-two hours later, I started Mrs. Osmond again and was happier, feeling I had accompanied Mr James’ Isabell Archer right up to the commencement of Banville’s imagination of her. He seamlessly constructs what would have been James’ next chapter in a voice so similar to his that one wouldn’t notice any change if this novel had been purported to be a long lost manuscript.
What a treat for those of us who agree with Jane Austin that a well-written novel cannot be too long. And, the fresh voice of the female narrator on Audible is just fine for those of us who love to have a story told to us.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful