Glorious. I enjoyed Portrait of A Lady as much as or more than I did as a junior in college. Then I appreciated the cerebrality of James how he could describe the interior of the mind. Take for example the justly famous scene of Isabel sitting at her fireplace. How could he know I wondered?
On this reading, I enjoyed Portrait of A Lady because it’s a great novel. What an insidious villain Gilbert Osmond is. How cruelly Isabel is manipulated. And how noble Ralph Touchett is! It got to me again when he told Isabel on his deathbed that she had been adored. And there’s the big question, which would make this another of my book club recommendations. Why does she, knowing what she knows, feeling what she feels, go back to Italy and to Osmond? The book group I read this as a part of spent most of the last meeting on this question.
Finally, I realized how completely I identified with Isabel and her desire to experience life on her terms in my then and my now. She is a modern woman; she is me curious, knowing what I don’t want and being on the verge.