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Cortesie per gli ospiti

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3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  7,360 ratings  ·  644 reviews
Set in Venice, two unsuspecting tourists, Colin and Mary, are vulnerable prey for those who know their way around. When searching for a restaurant, the couple encounters a polite man called Robert, who offers help, and then they enjoy a night of story telling and drinking. Yet somehow they will meet him again and become drawn into a fantasy of violence and obsession.
Paperback, Nuovi Coralli 353, 134 pages
Published 1983 by Einaudi (first published 1981)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paul
This was exactly the novel I didn’t want to read, but at least it’s official now – NO MORE IAN MCEWAN BOOKS FOR ME, EVER. I would like to tell you how stupid this novel is, but Maciek beat me to it – see his great review here

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

So let me tell you about the boring sentences you have to accept into your life if you read this book. Here’s one:

Now, in the late afternoon, although the sun was still high, the eastern sky had lost its vivid purple and, fading by deg
...more
Maciek
This was the first novel by Ian McEwan that I've read ages ago. I got a copy from a supermarket sale and read it in a day, wondering all the time how someone could write down so many nasty things and get away with it. Cut me some slack, I was 10.

So, as I sat to rediscover this classic, I hoped to feel at least a fraction of the weird pleasure this novel brought me back then. The thing is short - 120 pages long - and you can easily breeze through it in two hours.

I have to say that this might be M
...more
Shovelmonkey1
Sep 05, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone about to go on holiday
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
We're all going on a (pause) summer holiday. No more working for a week or two....

Or permanently because we make poor choices about accepting cordial invites from complete strangers. What is it about a glass of two of Prosecco on a warm summers afternoon that makes people so trusting of random strangers when they're on holiday? Perhaps we find some of our holiday locations so idealistic and romantic that it's like a fairy tale and so we'll merrily gad about, without a care in the world, believin
...more
Mike
Nov 24, 2008 Mike rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: eh....
Shelves: 50-books-2008
There are certain authors who I feel I should (eventually) read simply by dint of their, apparent, relevance to people. It seems like one should at least make a small effort to not curmudgeonly lie exclusively in the 1860-1960 century, and occasionally see what all the hub-bub is about. McEwan, DeLillo, and Eggers are all such authors who I have specifically avoided--the ones you see people walking around reading and wonder why they aren't reading Hamsun or Beckett, Mishima or Boll, Machado de A ...more
Steven
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mark
Well thank the Lord for bulk buying, that's all I can say. A few weeks ago I bought three Ian McEwan volumes. Two books of his short stories and this very short novel or maybe it is a novella. Anyway whatever it is, it was wonderful. Having just finished 'First Love,Last Rites'(FLLR) and been nauseated by the whole sickness of the themes I was very wary of reading anything else by him but as i had bought the three books and as i have always lived by that creed of when you fall off a bike get rig ...more
Angeline
As always, Ian McEwan tells this tale with remarkable descriptions, ensuring that the readers see everyone and everything in the novel the way he himself has pictured it. "The Comfort of Strangers", like "The Cement Garden", is a very quick read. However, it fails to captivate its audience. Pretty much nothing happens up until more than half of the book, which almost made me stop reading it out of complete boredom. His characters are lackluster and some parts of the story are pretty vague. McEwa ...more
Jonfaith
What tended to happen, to Colin and Mary at least, was that subjects were not explored so much as defensively reiterated, or forced into elaborate irrelevancies, and suffused with irritability.

This slim weapon is a foggy retreat into the nuptual neuroses during the holiday abroad. All baggage isn't declared at Customs. The soul is a mule through Passport Control. Regret and doubt are the rogue's liquidity, the same for the spouse. Lifting Blanche's best line will ultimately avail with kinky prop
...more
Mala
Review of 'The Comfort of Strangers' by Ian McEwan.
Recommended for: Travel phobiacs,Armchair travellers,McEwan fans

Travel advisory by Ian McEwan:

Do not travel.
Do not travel to Venice(& Amsterdam as well).
Do not go to Venice in summer as the soporific heat dulls the senses & makes you behave like an airhead.
Must have heavy lunch so in case you miss your dinner,you won't go looking for a hotdog stall outside a bar through dark & deserted alleyways.
Better take your children along so you
...more
Mizuki
It's a 'haunting but intriguingly written book' 4.5 stars.

The Comfort of Strangers is probably the first book by Ian McEwan, aka 'Ian Macabre', which I have actually finished reading and enjoyed. I never finish The Cement Garden, by the same author,therefore I'm pleasantly surprised to find The Comfort of Strangers so appealing.

The story is very simple: a pair of well-to-do, fine looking, highly educated couple went to an unnamed, tourist-crowded city (strongly hinted at as Venice), they hanged
...more
Julie
This is by far McEwan’s darkest book and he sets the mood perfectly. Mary and Colin are on holiday, experiencing some unexplained dissatisfaction with each other until a seemingly random encounter with Robert. Robert introduces the couple to his wife Caroline, and right away it is obvious something more sinister is at play. McEwan has written about the impact of strangers once in “Enduring Love,” but Robert and Caroline are more calculating than the obsessive Jed. The conclusion is more shocking ...more
Kathy
I'm sorry, Ian McEwan, but I don't believe you.

There is nothing about this book that convinces me that any of these people could exist in the real world. I cannot work out how Mary and Colin could be encountered anywhere but in a bad novel. I cannot work out why they - apparently boring, middle class nonentities - would take up with someone who is so obviously a criminal from the first moment that they meet him. I also cannot work out why they would agree to stay at his house and then, after he
...more
Zaki
I didn't quite like this. I couldn't find many redeeming features. Of course Ian McEwan’s writing is economical and beautifully crafted and in his unique way he can build this tension and take you with him but I couldn't bring myself to care for any of the characters. I couldn't identify with them. I felt that they were two dimensional. Yes, the story does take you along with that impending danger lurking in the background. But I wanted to find something satisfying about it.
Barbara
This little book was not a favorite McEwan book for me. Although it had lyrical strengths, it was psychologically cold. I could not help but wonder where the story was going. I will not summarize the plot here, merely comment on the contents.

Years ago, my husband and I went to Israel. Our knowledge of the language was meager, mostly the usual pleasantries and words of prayer. We were not part of a tour group, preferring to make our way around the country by public transportation and of course, o
...more
Yve Chairez
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephanie Sun
"'I woke up and realized something.. If I'd realized it in the daytime I wouldn't have been so frightened by it.'"

Halfway through this book, I spoiled the ending for myself and then almost gave up on it. It was only because I realized that the "strangers" of the title, Robert and Caroline, reminded me of the baroque doms and subs of The Bloody Chamber, and that that book had been published two years before this one and was certainly a waking hours influence on McEwan that I eventually continued.
...more
Rosemary Ceravolo
Jan 09, 2009 Rosemary Ceravolo rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
What I learned from this book? Hardly anything, except
that McEwan has made a Post-Modernist industry among
today's writers of witless forays into obvious horror-style, exaggerative, exploitative set-ups without much in-depth
character analysis, which we literates really expect from
great writers.

However, "The Comfort of Strangers," is structured to entice
and carry through to the bitter end, mainly because it's a
short read, although not as adept as his "On Chesil Beach."

The main thrust of "The
...more
Carol
McEwan's prose is smoother than poetry. His reputation is well established and very well deserved. In THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS, he uses his excellent skills to provide an exquisite and painstaking picture of two people walking, slowly but inexorably, into their own destruction.

In this story, the travelling couple in a foreign land (Venice?) is so vivid that you feel you can feel the frustration of the heat, the sounds, the scents, the sensations they experience. As danger approaches in the most
...more
Tara
I'm in a place where I'm totally into the "little" or "thin" novel, so this one hit the spot just right. I read it in a couple sittings and enjoyed the overall mood of the book, which is pretty dark, maybe even slightly gothic. Then the novel has a nice little twist at the end that I'm still thinking about several days after putting the book down. I can't say much more about the book because it might give the ending away. I didn't give it 5 stars because, although McEwan is definitely a fine cra ...more
Bam
An intensely creepy story! Mary and Colin, blasé lovers for the past seven years, are on vacation in some unnamed foreign city by the sea. Late one evening they get hopelessly lost while trying to find someplace still open where they can get food. A man with a camera appears who insists they accompany him to a bar. There the man named Robert begins to tell them the story of his childhood with his father, the Ambassador. Later, drunk and still lost, they spend the night on the streets and wake hu ...more
Jenn
Big disappointment, since I loved some of McEwan's other books. Bizarre, disturbing, depressing but ultimately pointless.
Paul Martin
Disturbing stuff.

While reading this I found myself thinking that there is very little development in the work of Ian McEwan. It then hit me that the reason for that is obvious: I've been reading his work in reversed chronological order, so it would be unfair to expect something he wrote at the start of his career in 1981 to be an improvement of something he wrote in 2005.

If this had been a new release I would probably have given it two stars.
The prose is great, as always, but the plot and charac
...more
Leah
Oh Ian, I feel as if I should like you, but we never seen to quite work out. At least I am comforted by many of the other reviews where it seems I am not alone in not really understanding why you are one of the great writers of our times. Yes, you do write quite nicely and given the amount of self-published garbage I have read, this is no small accomplishment. Yet I miss the element of story-telling in your work. I don't understand your characters and why they do what they do and I really don't ...more
Abraham
So... this is it, then? This is "Postmodernism," this is what our current generation has to show for itself. This kind of book is, somehow, going to be held up in the near future as representative of these, our modern days... "I don't know, man. I think you'd piss a lot of people off..."

The Company of Strangers by Ian McEwan is of a breed with which, I must admit, I am mostly unacquainted. My only other experience in this realm has been White Noise by Don Dellilo. (Listening in on a modern lit.
...more
Wildplumb
A short book, or novella, deserves a short review. Here goes:

This is my fifth McEwen book, found it at a used store for four bucks, and thought it would be a good two day read. It was, and it wasn't. This is no Atonement, however, I found it more interesting than Amsterdam...

The pros:
*The ennui of the couple is masterfully set-up. On vacation, yet bored, and very British in their daily rituals, the reader knows that something, anything, out of the ordinary is going to upset their "holiday."

*M
...more
Tunkabean
Haunting, compelling and entirely f*cked my mind!!!
This story was so well written and executed! There was such an ominous feel throughout with just enough pull to keep me wanting more while fearing to go any further. I just couldn't come to terms with some of what I was reading - absolute shock.This book is going to haunt me for a long time to come
Cynthia
I wish the ratings went up to 10. I'd give this book a 4.5 if I could. McEwan is so dark but so good. The only thing darker than this book is Black Dogs, or maybe Enduring Love or Atonement. I think that's the order of darkness I'd rank them. Oh and then Chesil Beach.
Heather Shaw
The author knows exactly where he's going every step of the way and I feel strung along. If the author isn't learning anything, then he's manipulating me. Abandoned halfway through. Two stars for the writing.
Marc Maitland
An excellent, and gripping, tale.



A very short (100) pages, set amongst the byways and backwaters of Venice, evoking both the atmosphere of mystery and menace for which Venice may have been designed as a backdrop.



Without revealing the plot too much, or indeed the twisted ending, the story starts with a couple - older than at first apparent as is later revealed - idling in their Venetian hotel room, venturing out and getting lost one evening, encountering the mysterious Robert, who has a tale to
...more
Princess
I just finished reading this novel a few minutes ago. Here, bear witness to my immediate [eloquent] reaction to the book: My God, My God, My God. Yesterday, when I was about mid-way through the book, I had quite a bit more to say. I scribbled this in my trusty old notebook:

Ian McEwan

He has constructed a story so complete that author and work seem “other” from each other.

It is not as if he created this world, it is as if these characters already existed, and somehow he has convinced them to make
...more
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Ian McEwan was born on 21 June 1948 in Aldershot, England. He studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970. He received his MA degree in English Literature at the University of East Anglia.

McEwan's works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last
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More about Ian McEwan...
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“She sleepwalked from moment to moment, and whole months slipped by without memory, without bearing the faintest imprint of her conscious will. ” 15 likes
“...they knew each other as much as they knew themselves, and their intimacy, rather like too many suitcases, was a matter of perpetual concern; together they moved slowly, clumsily, effecting lugubrious compromises, attending to delicate shifts of mood, repairing breaches. As individuals they didn't easily take offense; but together they managed to offend each other in surprising, unexpected ways; then the offender - it had happened twice since their arrival - became irritated by the cloying susceptibilities of the other, and they would continue to explore the twisting alleyways and sudden squares in silence, and with each step the city would recede as they locked tighter into each other's presence.” 10 likes
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