Friday, September 19, 2014

Book 57- The Princess of Cleves (92nd Book)

The book of the month for September was the Princess of Cleves. I finally got back to the original purpose of my Novel 100 challenge which was to make use of my ereader and take advantage of all the free books that Kobo has to offer; the Princess of Cleves was one of these. This novel is a French novel set in the time of Henry the second. It was written by a women of the court, Madame de Lafayette, although, during her life time it was anonymous. The novel sets itself amongst real historical characters, but follows fictional ones in one of the earliest novels to chronicle a character's psychological conflict.

I enjoyed this novel, but was not wowed by it. The story was an easy read and I found myself flipping the pages quickly. This is apparently a transition for the novel at this period which tended to focus on works that were upwards of 1,000 pages and detailed long winded histories of loosely tied in events. I was grateful for it's brevity!

If you can wade through the first 30-40 pages which place the novel in it's historical setting then the novel is an easy read. The novel starts with the reader thrown into a listing of all the figures that make up the court of the time. I actually flipped back to the beginning of the novel  to check whether or not I was reading the preface since the information was that dry! I struggled to keep the characters straight at the beginning, but once the actual plot began it got a lot easier.

I am not sure what I think of the overall story given that the Princess of Cleves denies herself of the man she loves even after her husband's death. On one hand, it is an honourable thing that she stuck to her principals and the demands that both her mother and dead husband had placed on her. On the other hand, even people of the time were unsure if this was a believable thing for a young woman in her position to do. Apparently there were debates that raged on about the novel, which was a hit even in its own time. As some one of the modern world, I get a bit uncomfortable when novels come across as being  preachy.

That's about all I have to say about the Princess of Cleves. I am excited for the next novel which is The Stranger by Albert Camus, also a French novel. I love that this challenge is exposing me to world fiction rather than simply English Literature which we are so used to reading in or North American context.

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