Review: The Portrait of a Lady

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The Portrait of a Lady Book Review
3+ out of 5 stars for The Portrait of a Lady, a classic story called the “Great American Novel,” written by Henry James in 1881. I adore Henry James and found great enjoyment in his literary works when I began reading him in my freshmen year at college. As an English major, I was exposed to many different authors, but I felt a strong connection with him and this literary period. American realistic works spoke to me above any of the other “classic” books I had been reading. As a result, I chose Henry James as the primary focus of an independent study course I’d taken in my senior year. I read 6 or 7 of his books during those 3 months and am going back now to provide quick reviews, as not everyone finds him as enjoyable as I do. I also don’t want to bore everyone with a lengthy review on how to interpret him or his books.

The Portrait of a Lady tells the story of a young woman who years to have her own life and make her own mark on the world. She doesn’t want to be contained by marriage or the structure in place at the time in the late 19th century. She has different characteristics coming from American, English and continental European female archetypes. She has strong moral and ethical values. She knows who she is, yet she does not know all. As she moves through life, she makes choices that are not easy for her to execute. What I loved about this work is its deep exploratory view points, beautiful language and unparalleled characters. Though I only give it a 3, when compared to some of this other works, I would recommend you read a few chapters or sections, just to see if it is something you could find yourself getting lost in.

The impact you feel upon reading this book is questioning what is the true view of a lady, how is she different from generation to generate, location to location and societal class to societal class. James knows women. He is very accurate on many levels… wrong on a few, too. But to put out his thoughts, in a huge tome, at a time when women were beginning to get more rights… and be able to cross genres and genders… is amazing. It’s less about what he says and more about how he says it. And that’s why I enjoy reading him… but even I admit, I can only take 1 book every few years! 🙂

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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9 thoughts on “Review: The Portrait of a Lady

    AvalinahsBooks said:
    May 30, 2017 at 11:43 AM

    Haven’t read this one yet, but it’s on my TBR for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      May 30, 2017 at 11:57 AM

      A definite good one in terms of classics. Enjoy.


        AvalinahsBooks said:
        May 30, 2017 at 12:22 PM


        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        May 30, 2017 at 12:23 PM

        i cant seem to find the follow button on your site, or to see if i am following it. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

        AvalinahsBooks said:
        June 2, 2017 at 1:02 PM

        Aw, sorry about that! I might have been during my redesign period, or maybe if you’re on the mobile site. There’s definitely an email sub form there, on the sidebar of the main page 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    Sophie @ Blame Chocolate said:
    May 30, 2017 at 2:35 PM

    This lady certainly seems like very interesting and complex character. I always enjoy reading biased works where we get to explore the different perspectives available. Unreliable narrators (if such is the case) can be extremely satisfying to read.
    Another great review, James!

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      May 30, 2017 at 2:42 PM

      Thank You. She is quite a central character… although it is 150 years ago… and definitely a lot of words… still good!


    declutteringmylifeweb said:
    August 20, 2017 at 7:29 AM

    I have just finished this book, but it has not become my favourite one. It is a classis of course, but 725 pages could have transmitted far more to the readers.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      August 20, 2017 at 7:50 AM

      I know what you mean. I loved so many of the themes and lyrics, but as a story, I felt it overran it’s path.

      Liked by 1 person

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