Sunday, April 28, 2013

Review: The Portrait of a Lady

The Portrait of a Lady
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Take a Jane Austen story in its infancy, spirit it away to the wrong side of the tracks, feed it crack and at 13, whore it out.

And that is what I felt this story was like.

James writing was so dense, so opaque, so much meaning hidden between the lines that I simply gave up trying to appreciate it and just slogged on through to get the bones of the story.

And I'm still not sure exactly what happened, or why.

I think the basic gist is of a young woman bent on not marrying, but who ends up marrying, regretting it and then at the end being taken by a man who wanted to marry her in the past?.

And other stuff dealing with family, fidelity and control.

The writing itself. Like I said, I gave up trying to pierce the veil James put up between me and the story, but I still appreciated the writing. It was well thought out. It was complex, complicated and correct. While I don't particularly like being left in the dark, at least James didn't try to sink down to the "common denominator" way of writing. His writing made me strive after something.

And we all occasionally need books like that.

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