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4.0 out of 5 stars
New World womanhood suppressed but triumphant, 1 April 2003
Isobel Archer, the cream of American womanhood, makes an unhappy marriage and lives in a fascinating but decadent Italy. Her New World classlessness belies her ease and familiarity among English aristocracy. Isobel's willingness to endure her living despair at her domestic and Europe-bound constraints results from her personal moral values which her North American Puritan background has given her.
Being British myself, I took 'The Portrait of a Lady' more seriously at first than when I reflected hard upon the declining Henry James's own succumbing to Old Europe's temptations by becoming a British subject in 1915, shortly before his death. But its sheer power as a novel stands. A must for Donald Rumsfeld's retirement reading.