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Publisher's Summary

James considers this book to be his masterpiece! Various "ambassadors" are sent to Paris to persuade Chad Newsome to return to his New England town and attend to his business interests there. One of these envoys, Lambert Strether, is so impressed with Chad's suavity and charm that he advises him to stay with Mme. de Vionnet in France.
©1992 Audio Book Contractors, Inc. (P)2004 Audio Book Contractors, Inc.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Eugene
  • CHICAGO, IL, United States
  • 11-03-17

A dense, intricate, beautiful work

This was my first introduction to Henry James, but after listening to this, I'll be exploring his work further. I love novels like this. The writing is ponderous, more concerned with fleshing out the characters and musing on their plights than on advancing the plot. It's dense stuff, but when the writing is this beautiful, that's a good thing.

I highly recommend this if you're interested in immersing yourself in it. It's the type of old book that can put you in a reverie, and an antidote to our times, even if the story is at times quite sad. I do not recommend this if you are looking for a plot-driven novel or have a low tolerance for long, complicated sentences and a style of narration that is highly indirect and suggestive rather than blunt and forthright.

The narration is quite good, in my opinion, but I know these things are personal. Play samples from the various versions available to find the narrator that's right for you.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Why Henry James never goes out of style

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This is a wonderful book, and thank you Flo Gibson for contriving charming character voices that transcend the ages. Your English-speaking Parisians come to life instantly, present themselves with dignity and high-minded sophistication.

Listening to the first chapter or so may be a bit daunting for some; the prose is somewhat archaic by today's standards (Not complaining! Love it!), requires some time to get the rhythm, sense the trajectory. But such a sweet story, so insightful and pleasant. After hearing it I went for the print version, intend to read it, too.

What did you like best about this story?

The deep dive into character development that generates an aire of highly refined sophistication assisted by disarming self-deprecation and good humor.

Have you listened to any of Flo Gibson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not but will certainly seek them out.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Vive la difference!

Any additional comments?

Thanks for a very enjoyable experience.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Loved reading Portrait of a Lady, but this...

I'm not sure why I disliked this audio book so much. I found the characters to be annoyingly self interested and ridiculously effusive. Everyone was "exquisite" and "perfect". Made myself finish it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Where's the story?

This is more about my limitations as a reader than it is about James, but all I can do is be honest, and, my goodness, this was a tough slog to get through. In this vast sea of beautiful words, I wasn't able to find the story. I only know what the book was about because I went to Wikipedia. I don't know how many times I had to pause the recording and ask, wait, where are we now? Who's speaking? Who is this character again?

I don't know of a writer who uses more words to describe a person, a place, a state of being, than James. I've read/listened to several of his works and, I have to say, I find the movie adaptions of them to be better. Sacrilege, I know.