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Bel Ami starts as a penniless returned soldier and by the end of the book after affairs and marriages he is one of the most powerful men in Paris if not France. He tramples on all he meets, money and position become everything and his sexual gratification is the cherry on the top.
The women in the story seem to be strong but really are weak and bend to his every whim and it shows that the story is basically a story of human desire, weakness and determination. Maupassant was well know for his excellent characterisation and in Bel Ami the characters are brilliantly portrayed.
Listening to my favourite Maupassant has really stimulated my hunger for more French literature which I have read extensively in my 30s. However, having it read to me gives it a whole extra layer of richness and complexity (and correct pronounciation of the French names and places!).
This book is highly recommended - listen to it before you see the film. The movie has been given a bad review but if you go in knowing the story and the main characters you might get more from it. Certainly you will go in understanding better the times and morals and be less judgemental. I hope to see the movie myself shortly. Standby - I might add to this review after I have seen it!
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
Typical Maupassant story of a young man developing his character during an earlier era.. A social commentary on the mores of the times with a fascinating narrative of a young man finding his way in the world when marital fidelity amongst the upper classes was accepted.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
I loved listening to this book. It is so beautifully written, so evocative, the characters flawed and real.
The narrator is excellent, perfect for this piece. I would definitely recommend Bel Ami.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book written by Guy de Maupassant or narrated by John McDonough?
A North American translation and North American accent are barriers to accessing Maupassant's novel. In addition, French pronunciation is lamentable - remember when you think you're in Caen you're really in Cannes and 'Jock' Rival is really a Frenchman called Jacques......On the plus side John McDonough reads expressively and intelligently at a sensible pace.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful