Gemma's Reviews > The Portrait of a Lady

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
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Jun 25, 07

bookshelves: absolutefavourites
Read in January, 2003

So many people have told me how much they hate this book, but I can honestly say that it was the reading of "The Portrait of a Lady" that convinced me of the power of literature.

Perhaps it is important to give some context. I bought a cheap, penguin classics copy of the novel in St Petersburg, Russia in the depth of winter. Stupidly, I had thought it a good idea to go to Russia for 6 months without one english language novel - I think this can partly be explained by the fact that I had just finished a similar stint in france and had taken so many books with me that my excess baggage charge had left me rather light cashwise & partly by the fact that I thought it sensible to cut myself off from english and immerse myself in Russian. Needless to say, after a few weeks of not understanding anything it was time to buy a book. A long one. And so it was that I finally tackled Henry James.

And this book just held me in its grip until I completed it. Isabel Archer remains one of the fictional characters who has most affected me (Caro from "the transit of venus" being the other). And I could hardly read the final pages through my tears.

So I would recommend to anyone who hated this, to cut themselves off from their normal life for a while, starve themselves of books.....and then try again.
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Maria terrible book.
miserable.
hated it.


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