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Friday, December 18, 2009

Portrait of a Lady Discussion

I'm conflicted about this novel. Here's why. The story was compelling. I was drawn along instantly feeling connection with Isabel. The varied people around her, some practicing political duplicity, others quite sincere, some overtaken by her, all had interesting depth. I wanted to know what would happen to her. Who would she marry? How would her marriage turn out? And when we found that out, I yearned to a strong extent for a resolution for her. In the end, the resolution she chooses would not have been my choice, and yet it had the effect of being one of those great endings that stay in my mind plaguing me for days.

That being said, I had a hard time holding on to James' prose. I was easily bored by his wordiness and tangential wanderings. His words are beautiful, and yet, though I understood them all, not unfamiliar with them, I still felt his composition veiled the whole thing in a rather frustrating cloud of vagueness. It was like knowing something but never truly putting your finger on it. Not being able to fully express it. It gnawed at me. It made me feel inferior to his narrative which was off putting. I'm not reading to be confused, I'm reading to understand. I couldn't quite figure out why if I understood the meaning of each word, the string of them eluded me. I'm not sure this makes sense to you, but it is the strange feeling that shadowed me through the entire novel.

Overall then I'm not sure how to rate it. I didn't enjoy it as I should have if it hadn't been for that odd perception of being in the dark the whole time. And yet, I didn't want to put it down for all that.

What would you say about it?

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