The Portrait of a Lady. Henry James. Houghton Mifflin, 1881. First US edition.
As James created her, Isabel Archer from Albany, NY, was the ideal of a penniless but spirited young woman who arrives in London seeking her destiny and hoping to find in Old World Europe new freedom and opportunities for self-reinvention and an Emersonian self-reliance.
Isabel—who James imagines as “very conscious of being an American in Europe”—is the true American innocent abroad, who eventually comes to know great suffering, disillusionment and the harsh realities of being caught up in the idealizations of others.