Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady straddles the two divergent categories of incandescent work of literature and engaging page-turner. Like John Steinbeck’s East of Eden and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, the characters in Portrait, led by the ambivalent Isabel Archer, are thoroughly engrossing and entertaining.

An independent thinker, Archer departs her home of England and arrives in Europe, aching for self-discovery. Confronted with the sometimes-harsh realities of the sophisticated world she finds herself in, she struggles to find her way as she tumbles down life’s rabbit holes. Grade: A