How to describe her…

29 Jan

The Portrait of a Lady  chapter 19

“When Madame Merle was neither writing, nor painting, nor touching the piano, she was usually employed upon wonderful tasks of rich embroidery, cushions, curtains, decorations for the chimney-piece;an art in which her bold , free invention was as noted as the agility of her needle.  She was never idle, for when engaged in none of the ways I have mentioned she was either reading (she appeared to Isabel to read “everything important”), or walking out, or playing patience with the cards, or talking with her fellow inmates.”

Oh, Madame Merle… how can we describe you?
Ah!  How about an accomplished young woman? Remember those?
Okay, so you aren’t exactly young.
How about we drop the young adjective and call you an accomplished woman?

See.  Our narrator even calls her accomplished…

I am bound to confess, though it may cast some discredit on the sketch I have given of the youthful loyalty practiced by our heroine toward this accomplished woman

Accomplished woman

Remember accomplished women?  We became quite familiar with them (here and here ) when we were reading Pride and Prejudice.


Posted by on January 29, 2013 in The Portrait of a Lady


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2 responses to “How to describe her…

  1. Christina Joy

    January 29, 2013 at 10:24 am

    I too wondered if James was referencing Austen here. And if so, is he being snarky or paying her due honor? Hectometer.

    • Christine

      January 30, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      I’m not sure. At this point in the novel, there’s nothing Mme M can’t do. It’s later that she disappoints me.


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