The last page of Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady (1881) leaves its heroine, Isabel Osmond, with an ambiguous choice. To go back into the cage of her wretched marriage might be an exercise of will for duty’s sake, or an evasion, based on fear. Readers have been disputing Isabel’s motives ever since her creator so provokingly left the door ajar. Now, distinguished Irish novelist John Banville has taken it on himself to answer the question that James left hanging. What will Isabel do next, and why?
Brenda Niall reviews 'Mrs Osmond' by John Banville
by John Banville
Viking, $29.99 pb, 376 pp, 9780 241260180
Brenda Niall’s writing career began during her time as an academic at Monash University, where she was Reader in the Department of...
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