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Synopsis

The Portrait of a Lady is considered a masterpiece by critics and fans alike. Set primarily in England and Italy, the novel features a young American woman named Isabel Archer, who's just inherited a chunk of cash. Though she is escorted by her protective cousin Ralph and her confidante Henrietta Stackpole, Isabel falls into the scheme of two American expats, Madame Merle and Gilbert Osmond. Once they're on the scene, charming upper crust manners give way to Machiavellian plotting.

Like much of James's work, Portrait of a Lady is long, complex and deep, but it's a masterfully crafted tale well told. James guides the reader through the psychological depths of Isabel's deteriorating mental landscape as she falls victim to greedy conspirators. He brilliantly illustrates Isabel's journey through the deteriorating architecture of Rome as a mirror to her own dwindling passions - a James-as-usual naive American in Europe device which brilliantly juxtaposes Old World and New.

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