Mrs. Osmond (Hardcover)

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John Banville is one of my favorite novelists, and, in recent years, he has shown himself to be something of a literary chameleon, using his considerable powers to mimic the writing styles of a few admired writers. I’m thinking now of his detective novel “Black-Eyed Blonde”, in which he dusts off Raymond Chandler’s indefatigable Philip Marlowe and sends him out on another case.

In his latest work, “Mrs. Osmond”, Banville pays homage to the 19th-century master Henry James by writing a sequel to “The Portrait of a Lady”.  Fans of James will certainly savor an opportunity to catch up with the incomparable Isabel Archer and the mysterious Madame Merle, and fans of Banville will delight in his lyrical prose (I actually read it aloud). You can certainly say one thing about Banville. He isn’t lacking in ambition.

— From Brian's Picks


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 na ve 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.

About the Author

JOHN BANVILLE, the author of sixteen novels, has been the recipient of the Man Booker Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Award, the Franz Kafka Prize, and a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. He lives in Dublin.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780451493422
ISBN-10: 0451493427
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Publication Date: November 7th, 2017
Pages: 384
Language: English