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18th century epistolary novel recounting the sexual intrigues and adventures of a pair of scheming French Libertines.
Really liked the way the letters are used to hide and to work parts of the plot instead of simply being a device that gives the characters a first-person voice.
Some interesting and disturbing psychological strategies are used between the main characters to goad each other and to trap and manipulate the hapless victims.
The letters are eloquent and quite amusing in a wicked sort of way, and the story is so fresh for something 233 years old. The audiobook is very well narrated by Gabriel Woolf using P.W.K Stone's very readable translation for Penguin (1961).
This recording is clear, but there are small hitches in the editing: small slips of the tongue have not been edited out, and about a paragraph of narrative is missing from 3:35:00 to 3:35:19 of letter 44 in part 1.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I did enjoy this book but it was somewhat spoilt for me for having seen the excellent movie starring John Malkovich and Glenn Close (the updated version with Sarah Michelle Gellar is pretty good too). The movie managed to retain the complex relationships between the characters, and the moral ambiguity of the story, but it had a much sharper focus and narrative drive. The book, in contrast does not so much dwell on as wallow in the detail and to the modern reader it does drag, particularly in the middle; and it beggars belief somewhat that people wrote such long, articulate and closely argued letters to one another. On the plus side the prose is superb - like eating a large and rich box of chocolates.
The book caused quite a scandal in its day - in the years just before the French revolution ( I think the author had a minor role in this but cant remember the details). Narration is superb and sound quality fine for what must be quite an old recording.
I confess I preferred the movie so in all honesty could not recommend the book unless you are keen on 18th century French literature.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
This is a great story. I highly enjoyed listening to the audiobook and the reader did a fantastic job. My only complaint is that this audiobook was adapted from cassette and there is a spot where you are told to turn the tape over. This should have been edited out. It seems that during this spot part of the text of the book was missed. For a moment I was confused. Because the audiobook was cheep and the reader so good, it can be over looked. If it wasn't for that I would have given it 5 stars instead of 4. Besides this I highly recommend this audiobook. It is worth the listen.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
I knew what I was getting into. I like long stories but this one seemed unusally long. A french narrator, who's very good, reads the 200+ letters that compromise correspondence between two manipulators and other lesser characters in 18th century Paris. Fascinating as character studies but maybe too long. Also, a lot of deciphering, reading between the lines and if you let your attention drift, you lose what's going on as it is never told as a narrative but just letter after letter. Overall, good narrator, good characters, interesting.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful