• Ayesha Dhurue

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

Henry James’s complex and gripping literary style – an embodiment of his presence of mind and his bold imagination – is the inner voice of tranquility. And The Portrait of a Lady his muse. Henry James creates a sensitive and sentient world through his characters’ desires. Though the story, from start to finish, wasn’t riveting; what was was the novelist’s way of elevating the narrative. And that is what makes this a compelling read. It has a way of taking charge of its own soliloquy. Again, James’s conscientious peculiarity of committing to his characters – Isabel, Ralph, Henrietta, Madame Merle, Gilbert – is masterful. He doesn’t let go of their psyche for the sake of prose which distinguishes his distinctive literary virtues from those intending to incite an emotional response. There is no emotion, no catastrophe, no desire that James cannot square with words. His prose feels so light, instinctive, and convincing that into the final chapters of the book – you’ve transformed. From someone who just reads a book to someone who has to part with it.