Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Mrs. Osmond by John Banville #InspiredByClassics

🖤 Mrs. Osmond is none other than Isabel Archer from Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady. Banville wrote this book to imagine Isabel's fate after her marriage with the deceitful Gilbert Osmond, who actually loved other woman (Madame Merle) and only married Isabel for money.

🖤 Mrs. Osmond starts where Portrait ends, thus making it a sort of its direct sequel. Banville's similarity in writing to James' style is also quite uncanny.

🖤 After Ralph's death in Portrait, Isabel was said to be leaving for Rome, returned to her bitter marriage with Gilbert Osmond. But Mrs. Osmond "revealed" to us that she's actually reluctant to return home, and made a detour, instead, to familiar places in England and France, in order to sort out her own predicament and what she would/could do when she must inevitably confront her husband. Would she continue to live unhappily in Rome, or could she secure her freedom, which Ralph has intended to when he left her the inheritance?

🖤 Reading this book reminded me again of how I was drowned to Isabel Archer's personalities while reading Portrait. Her intelligence, her crave for freedom, and her independent way of thinking. But also her pride and sense of duty to others who depended on her, which eventually led her to bitterness. In a way, I share those qualities, and that's why both Portrait and Mrs. Osmond would forever be two of the most memorable readings for me.

🖤 I would love to share Isabel's final decision here, but I think knowing the ending would lose the charm of reading this book. You need to follow Isabel's psychological struggle, moments of doubts, and her courage, to truly understand and appreciate the ending, whatever it might be.

🖤 A marvelous book, one that I'm sure Henry James himself would have approved!

Rating: 4,5 / 5


  1. I love Henry James' Portrait of a Lady. It's one of my favorites, but I've never heard of this book. I love that it's about Isabel and what happened to her in her marriage. Can't wait to read it! :D

    1. If you love Portrait of a Lady, then I'm sure you'll like this one! ;)


What do you think?