Woohoo!!! I finished my first book of the year for my "read a book a month" new year's resolution. I have finally read Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady. I have checked that book out so many times from the library and never read it, and now, finally, success! I finished it on Saturday, February 7, 2009. I went a week over my 1 month timeline but I am still totally proud of myself. It was a long book...522 pages of tiny, complex text.
This is my first Henry James novel. It took me awhile to get into the story and really start to care about the characters. James has an interesting narrative style, inconic of his time. He acts as a completely outside narrator telling the story, often referring to the main character as "our heroine". It is an interesting style and not one of which I am especially fond.
The first 200 pages were a struggle. But after the first major climax, the rest of the book flowed nicely. James throws a twist in the last 60+ pages that I totally didn't see coming. It makes so much sense, but he never gave any reason for the reader to even think it, which I think is really cool. The way Isabel Archer (the main character) evolves throughout the book is fascinating.
Themes of sorrow creating better people, and the effects of money on decisions are both apparent. The Portrait of a Lady is a classic because of the themes. It looks into the motivation behind why we each make certain decisions that grately effect the outcome of our lives. We must live with our right and wrong choices. Overall, I am very satisfied with the book and myself. I have now begun Revolutionary Road by Robert Yates.