The heroine of this powerful novel is the spirited young American Isabel Archer. Blessed by nature and fortune, she journeys to Europe to seek her future, but what she finds may prove to be her undoing. She is courted by three men: an English aristocrat, an American gentleman, and a sensitive expatriate. Her invalid cousin becomes her benefactor and adviser. But it is after the ingenuous Isabel falls prey to the schemes of an infinitely more sophisticated older woman that her life takes shape. Rich in character and the interplay of tensions, "The portrait of a lady" is a brilliant, timeless, and essential American novel.