I was surprised and very honoured to be asked by the esteemed Norman Geras to contribute to his Writer’s Choice series, in which writers share some thoughts on a book which means something to them. Coincidentally, when Norman asked me I was approaching the end of a rereading of Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady, which I’ve always described as my favourite book even though I read it over two decades ago. You can see what I said about it here.
Suffice to say, here, that my second reading didn’t knock the book from its perch. The Portrait of a Lady is still my favourite novel. I did describe it in an essay once as “the greatest novel ever written,” which memorably drew the response from my teacher that I should be congratulated on having read all the novels ever written, and at such a young age. But to read it again after so long, and after so many other novels, and to have been as delighted by it as much as before – I mean, it’s got to be up there, hasn’t it?