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Mrs. Osmond: Book summary and reviews of Mrs. Osmond by John Banville

Mrs. Osmond

by John Banville

Mrs. Osmond by John Banville X
Mrs. Osmond by John Banville
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  • Published Nov 2017
    384 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

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 naïve 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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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. As in James's novel, Banville incorporates a wonderful sense of irony; the result is a novel that succeeds both as an unofficial sequel and as a bold, thoroughly satisfying standalone." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. A sequel that honors James and his singular heroine while showing Banville to be both an uncanny mimic and, as always, a captivating writer." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. With viciously mannered dialogue and breathtaking psychological metaphors (Isabel feels like a hearse carrying "the warm little corpse of her own heart"), he dramatizes Isabel's quest for higher moral ground only to slyly leave his novel's ending as enigmatic as its inspiration. Banville's gamble, daring us to compare his sequel to James' classic, pays off deliciously." - Booklist

This information about Mrs. Osmond was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

John Banville Author Biography

Photo © Jerry Bauer

John Banville, the author of seventeen novels, has been the recipient of the Man Booker Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Award, the Franz Kafka Prize, a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, and the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature. He lives in Dublin.

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