The heroine of this powerful novel, often considered James's greatest work, is the spirited young American Isabel Archer. Blessed by nature and fortune, she journeys to Europe to seek the full realization of her potential - but what she finds there may prove to be her undoing. An English aristocrat, a perfect American gentleman, and a sensitive expatriate woo her; her invalid cousin becomes her benefactor and adviser. But it is only after the ingenuous Isabel falls prey to the schemes of an infinitely sophisticated older woman that her life takes on its true form. With its brilliant interplay of tensions and characters, The Portrait of a Lady is a timeless, essential novel.