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The Stranger at the Palazzo d'Oro

3.28  ·  Rating Details ·  344 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
From the best-selling author of Dark Star Safari and Hotel Honolulu, Paul Theroux's latest offers provocative tales of memory and desire. The sensual story of an unusual love affair leads the collection. The thrill and risk of pursuit and conquest mark the accompanying stories, which tell of the sexual awakening and rites of passage of a Boston boyhood, the ruin of a write ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 12th 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 559)
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Daren
At least partially written while Theroux was in Africa, travelling for his Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town, it only seems reasonable to read it concurrently.
Shane
Jan 17, 2009 Shane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book veers between two themes: (a) stories that are reflections on sexual exploits and desires of people who reach the magical age of sixty, and (b) stories that highlight the dark secrets that accrue in the coming of age of a boy (Andy). It seemed to me that Theroux ran out of the number of pages required to fully exploit either of these themes and cobbled the stories together, sandwiching Andy's stories between the 60 year-olds' memories.
That said, Theroux's sense of place is vivid - be
...more
Theresa Sjoquist
The Stranger At The Palazzo D'Oro

Paul Theroux

Hamish Hamilton Books

Paul Theroux creates highly evocative ambience in each of the six tales in his collection, The Stranger at the Palazzo D'Oro. In the title story, about bored wealthy tourists in an Italian seaside resort of the early sixties, we follow an older man revisiting his past, comprehending finally the events of forty years earlier. The tale's end alleviated my discomfort, but be ready for the S&M slant.

The ensuing set of three tales
...more
Shantanoo Desai
Aug 02, 2015 Shantanoo Desai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have encountered Theroux's non-fiction work in "Sunrise with Seamonsters" previously, and this way was my first bite into his fictional works. One thing duly noted is, that Paul Theroux is an exceptional story teller and his experiences with traveling around the world and jotting the ambience down into words, is a class apart.
The book is focused majorly on the 'needs, wants and desires' of us, mere mortal humans and majorly on the sexual facets of these needs, wants and desires. The Strangers
...more
Kathy
Dec 17, 2008 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Theroux at his finest communicates life directly in a fashion that I've rarely encountered. So much of recent fiction I've found self-conscious, cerebral, and detached. Theroux has magic when he allows himself to use it -- evoking place and character profoundly and honestly.
Jim
Dec 29, 2010 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bought in Heathrow airport, I was hoping that this would be somewhere near as gripping as the Roald Dahl I couldn't find. Theroux's fiction can be a bit of a let-down (Saint Jack, Chicago Loop) or intensely entertaining (My Secret History, The Mosquito Coast) but it is almost always worth reading. This novella had its points to put about truth and beauty, not to mention sex and death, but Theroux is not as bitter and vicious as he once was. I felt that he wanted to be as vile as he could in the ...more
Theodora Catalina
My opinion:
The book is actually made of some short stories that make you go deeper and deeper into some kind of dance with the same theme, but different characters.
I will not talk about the characters because I would not have something really intriguing to say about them, but I will let some words to speak for themselves about this book.
Is one of those books that you read because you leave on the road and you cannot get yourself out of the book because even though you realise that every single n
...more
Rob
Apr 20, 2016 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
A dynamite short story collection (with echoes of de Mauppussant) full of creeping tones and well-rounded irony in which every tale is driven home to the very last sentence... Even more refreshing is the shifting global locales accented with keen detail... Add generous sex and lust and its allure grows... This book introduces me to a sensitive and worldly author I'm sure to read more of.
Bookmarks Magazine

Fans of Theroux's previous 24 books will be no strangers to the sex, suspense, and eroticism peppered throughout this collection. As middle age passes him by, Theroux seems ever more fascinated by men's obvious weaknesses, displayed here in all their follies. Critics suggest an autobiographical element to these stories, which draw inspiration from familiar Therouxian territory. His stylistic range is amazing, and, as always, he writes pitch-perfect dialogue. It's the stories that raise questions

...more
Annie
Jun 18, 2010 Annie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steve
I really enjoyed the title story. It's a surprising and erotic coming of age story about a young, American expatriate.

Do you find her attractive?

I had to admit that I did. She was pretty in a brittle old-fashioned way. She was chic, she was demanding. Yes, she was much older than me— I could not tell how much; thirty-five, perhaps— and I was twenty-one. Be strangely , her age did not prejudice me against her. I was attracted to here for it, for the oddness of it. She was certainly unlike any w
...more
Brooke Binkowski
Dec 12, 2013 Brooke Binkowski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paul Theroux is one of my all-time favorite writers, and for good reason -- like his one-time mentor, that old woman-loathing racist V.S. Naipaul, he creates characters clearly based on people he loathes. As Theroux, unlike Naipaul, is an equal-opportunity hater -- he loathes basically everybody -- this makes for rich and entertaining reading.

However, age and women seem to have softened him up a bit. Now, although his eye is as gimlet as ever, Theroux seems to have developed a bit more empathy f
...more
Louie
May 06, 2015 Louie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 1/2
ashok
Apr 14, 2010 ashok rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Paul Theroux wrote the first draft of this book while traveling through Africa (which became the book "Dark Star Safari"). This is among his weaker novels (though much better than 'The Elephanta Suite'), but still an interesting work - and primarily deals with the loss of youth, the onset of age, and sexuality. The title novella is perhaps the weakest of the stories in the book -- the rest of the stories are interesting, in particular 'An African Story' is a standout piece.
Robert
Aug 18, 2012 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A strange story but a fascinating one by a talented writer. I have read many of his works and they vary in quality and this one is about midstream. The main story of the countess and her youthful admirer takes place in an exotic Mediterainian island but is shorter than I anticipated although none the less enjoyable for it. There is a twist to the end of this story that I won't divulge here as it would be a spoiler for sure.
Sharon
Dec 13, 2013 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this strange but delightfully memorable book while visiting Sicily in 2004! Certainly made it a more colorful read.
Writer writes of a younger man older woman subtle teasing affair in quiet paradise.
I like his short stories very much. They range from silly reflections, even gossipy or recollections to very memorable observations.
Carmen
Apr 05, 2009 Carmen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: popular-fiction
This is a book of short stories. Three are about 100 pages long and one is 25 or so. They share a common theme. They all involve sexual fulfillment and it seems to protray them negatively, in other words that just the physical fulfillment in life is not enough.
Thomas Williams
For anyone that has travelled alone Theroux captures those times that were life changing in some way .. it's a page turner. Language is less than impressive but he's a great yarn spinner.
Prasad GR
Sep 07, 2013 Prasad GR rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An eclectic style that is a mix of Dahl & Twain makes this collection of novellas a terrific roller coaster ride. Thoroughly enjoyable!
Gretchen
May 11, 2012 Gretchen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I was indifferent when I started it, then I started to get into it. Then I decided it sucked and didn't finish.
John Morris
Really enjoyed the title story. Also enjoyed the other short stories but not as much as the main one.
Michael
This one is hit-and-miss with me. It somehow needed more of a story and less pushed upon eroticism.
Steve
Sep 30, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Theroux rarely disappoints and this volume of well-crafted short stories is no exception.
Diane Metzger
Mar 27, 2008 Diane Metzger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit of erotica...enjoyable, especially for the older crowd
Vel
Mar 23, 2014 Vel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Title story was brilliant. Others were quite good.
Kevin Donohue
Just didn't enjoy the style of writing.
'fiona
Aug 02, 2007 'fiona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: just-read
Pretty raunchy! Interesting read...
Dan Piette
Short stories
Leo Buijs
Leo Buijs rated it really liked it
Sep 25, 2016
Tom Czerwinski
Tom Czerwinski marked it as to-read
Sep 15, 2016
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Paul Edward Theroux is an American travel writer and novelist, whose best known work is The Great Railway Bazaar (1975), a travelogue about a trip he made by train from Great Britain through Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, through South Asia, then South-East Asia, up through East Asia, as far east as Japan, and then back across Russia to his point of origin. Although perhaps best know ...more
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