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i am always amazed when i read what this book is about, since the main character always seems to me like the only half decent person in the book. it is mostly about religious hypocrisy, how religion is fitted into chaotic lives in neat little pockets of piety. it is also about pride, misunderstanding, family relations being allowed to sour with no attempt at retrieving what has been lost. but it is also full of excitement and little cliff hangers as this man tries to decide what to do with his fortune.
the writing is superb, the man could write and deserved the nobel prize he won. the reader is also excellent.
altogether it was a trip into another world, the inner workings of a french landowning family. i had read it before, many years ago, and was curious to see if my reaction would be the same. it was. a good investment of my money as i will listen to it again and again through the years.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Geoffrey Howard he also does audio books under the name Ralph Cosham) does a superb job of narrating this book. He is able to communicate emotion without being overly sentimental. I would also recommend his reading of Beau Geste.
The book is excellent. It sounds unappealing, I must admit - almost the entire work consists of the reminiscences of a spiteful rich lawyer who knows he will soon be dead. However it is quite fascinating to see how his life developed and why he has ended up so miserable despite being so successful. It is a wonderful warning to not spend one's short life wrapped up in petty resentments and jealousies.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
A man awaits death and begins to write a letter to his wife. He finds himself alienated from her and, subsequently, his children, all of whom he thinks hate him. He feels loved by none and that people only attach themselves to him for his fortune.
His letter serves as a journey through his life and help him penetrate his own heart as he hurtles towards something that was in him all along.
His heart is a tangle of viperes, but will he escape?
I didn't like this book at first. However, it truly is a masterpiece. The narration is superb.
I was lead to this book via a consideration of the recent death of Antonio Tabucchi who cited Mauriac as a great influence. It is possible to see why, but having completed the novel I feel that Tabucchi was the more satisfying read.
That said, there are some really thoughtful insights here and religious meditations that really had me thinking. So much gloom and doom, misogyny and misanthropy is balanced by a religious revelation in the later sections which is then underlain by a final questioning. It is in essence a work of religious Existentialism - if there can be such a thing - delivered through the distanced narrator and the tricks of the modernist. A good, but not a great read - and like the curate’s egg in totality I felt.