“This cunning sequel to The Portrait of a Lady is a remarkable novel in its own right. At times it has the glacial pace of the original, endless psychological dithering punctuated by brilliant flashes of melodrama.”
Featured in The Guardian’s Best Fiction Books of 2017.
“Banville’s sequel to Henry James’s ‘Portrait of a Lady’ follows Isabel Archer back to Rome and the possible end of her marriage.”
Featured in New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2017.
Mrs. Osmond is a novel by John Banville that tells the story about Isabel Archer, the heroine of Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady.
She is a young American woman who has been swept off to Europe in the late nineteenth century. She has been taken away by an aunt who hopes to curb the young woman’s rash but innocent behavior by allowing her to experience of the world.
Isabel unexpectedly comes into a large, unexpected inheritance and she gathers the attention the charming but penniless Mr. Gilbert Osmond. She gets manipulated into marriage with the man and too late finds out about his cruel and deceitful nature.
Soon, a suspiciously intimate connection between a certain Madame Merle and Gilbert is discovered.
Desperate for a way out of her marriage, Isabel travels to England to visit her cousin, Ralph Touchett, who is on his deathbed.
Isabel is offered the opportunity to free herself from the marriage but chooses to return to Italy instead.
The story diverts then to James’s story line and when Isabel arrives in Italy—along with someone surprising—the novel takes off in directions that James himself would be thrilled to follow.
The author narrates this book with amazing inventiveness. He has the lyrical precision with words and surprises with his language. He has embedded layers of emotional and psychological intensity into every word inserting subtle, dark humor in every line.
John Banville is a prize-winning author of other praised works including The Sea. The reviews for his literature have been astounding and rightly so as his writing is truly masterful and gripping.