From the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea , a dazzling and audacious new novel that extends the story of Isabel Archer, the heroine of Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady, into unexpected territory.
Isabel Archer is a young American woman, swept off to Europe in the late nineteenth century by an aunt who hopes to round out the impetuous but na#65533;ve girl's experience of the world. When Isabel comes into a large, unexpected inheritance, she is finagled into a marriage with the charming, penniless, and--as Isabel finds out too late--cruel and deceitful Gilbert Osmond, whose connection to a certain Madame Merle is suspiciously intimate. On a trip to England to visit her cousin Ralph Touchett on his deathbed, Isabel is offered a chance to free herself from the marriage, but nonetheless chooses to return to Italy. Banville follows James's story line to this point, but Mrs. Osmond is thoroughly Banville's own: the narrative inventiveness; the lyrical precision and surprise of his language; the layers of emotional and psychological intensity; the subtle, dark humor. And when Isabel arrives in Italy--along with someone else!--the novel takes off in directions that James himself would be thrilled to follow.
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