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Act of Passion

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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  307 ratings  ·  49 reviews
For forty years Charles Alavoine has sleepwalked through his life. Growing up as a good boy in the grip of a domineering mother, he trains as a doctor, marries, opens a medical practice in a quiet country town, and settles into an existence of impeccable bourgeois conformity. And yet at unguarded moments this model family man is haunted by a sense of emptiness and futility ...more
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Published October 18th 2011 by NYRB Classics (first published 1946)
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William1
Epistolary. First person. Dr. Alavoine, recently convicted for murder, is writing to M. Coméliau, the Examining Magistrate in his recent murder trial. The convict believes that during discovery he established some sort of connection with the judge. For many weeks the two men and their lawyers sat across from each other discussing details of the case. Now Dr. Alavoine is writing to the judge from prison. He wants the judge to know that his opinion that he acted without premeditation was incorrect ...more
Jessica
The most disturbing of the romans durs I've read (I've read 6 or so) and not my favorite because of the way it disturbs but utterly impressive all the same. As far as I know it is the only novel Simenon wrote in first person, and this, as well as the nature of the crime, may account for my discomfort. It is, as are so many of Simenon's novels, masterful and memorable.
I read this immediately following Monsieur Monde Vanishes and the theme of a father, husband, respected member of society passivel
...more
Sandra
Charles Alavoine, medico di provincia, è finito in carcere per un omicidio, nulla più sappiamo all’inizio del libro. Dal carcere intesse un lungo monologo diretto al giudice istruttore, non per cercare attenuanti, né per passare per pazzo, ma per spiegare che l’atto da lui commesso è stato compiuto con piena capacità di intendere e di volere. Per arrivare a questo Charles racconta la sua intera esistenza fino a quel momento all’unico essere che può comprenderlo, forse l’unico amico, il “suo” gi ...more
Piperitapitta
Una morbosa ossessione.

È quella che travolge Charles, medico di campagna a La Roche-sur-Yon, Vandea, ancora Francia del Nord, quella regione che ormai sembra calamitare le letture dei miei ultimi mesi.
Charles che è apparentemente un ignavo, un uomo che alla vita ha dato nulla più di quanto la vita ordinaria chiede a ciascuno di noi: due matrimoni (il secondo dei quali solo per convenzione), due figli, una professione rispettabile e rispettata.
Finché non incontra Martine, la sua ombra perduta, gi
...more
J.
For the longest time this story comes across as the dire drama familiar to every noir narrative-- desperate characters, pushed beyond their limits, in a place where the ground-rules are unreliable or non-existent.

But Simenon has a more convoluted plan here. For most of the telling, there is uncertainty about the murder, but not who has committed it-- rather, the circumstances and the victim are held in question late into the game. And that is because we are in the hands of a skillful and devious
...more
Nicholas During
One understands why Simenon called them "roman durs," what could be more bleak than a love story when the highest level of love is murder.

This is a pretty full novel. It has a bit of the Camus-like existentialism in it, with a man questioning society and his role in it, and ultimately opting out--and of course the final rejection of society is murder. It also has a lot of psychological exploration going on; Alavoine's confession to the magistrate, the whole book, is like a one-way session going
...more
Selena
if that's love, i never want to experience it.
Eric
One of Simenon's lesser efforts, Act of Passion is unique in that it is written from the protagonist's point of view (indeed, the entirety of the novella is a letter from the protagonist). This departure from Simenon's usual reportage style causes the story to be more tedious than it needs to be; because the main character is a neurotic sort, we are subjected to his indulgent tendencies, and so the novel often founders. It picks up steam toward the end but remains somewhat airless. One never rea ...more
Jim
Whenever one encounters a writer as prolific as Georges Simenon, one is bound to find some works that are not as good as others. Act of Passion is a long letter written by a criminal to a French jurist who helped find him guilty of an unspecified crime. For the longest time, we do not know what this crime is -- and we find out only toward the end.

The problem with the book is that the narrator is a fiercely unlikeable character: A physician in the provinces who although he admits to passions is f
...more
Karen
This is one of Simenon's "hard novels", and I think the premise was quite interesting. A convicted murderer writes a letter to the judge to "explain" why he did what he did.
Isairon
Finito il romanzo rimango con una domanda che mi martella..."si può arrivare ad uccidere per amore, la persona amata?" Bellissimo romanzo di Simenon, la storia di un uomo prigioniero di una vita che non considera sua. Di una vita a cui gli manca qualcosa, che all'improvviso, senza cercarla, la trova. Ha raggiunto la felicità, qui incomincia il percorso che gli farà conoscere l'amore, ma che lo porterà alla distruzione, alla morte... o forse no!
Bellissimo romanzo, anche il finale, che però non ri
...more
Pat

Charles è l’uomo che è per volontà della madre. Lo ha sempre indirizzato, con discrezione, a scegliere ciò che secondo lei era bene. Fino al giorno in cui Armande è entrata nelle loro vite e ha preso il comando. Martine è l’opposto di Armande. Se l’una è la moglie perfetta, donna decisa e integra, l’altra è l’amante ambigua e torbida e porta con sé tutti i fantasmi che le hanno attraversato la vita e il corpo. Charles scoprirà però una nuova Martine, quella che nessuno ha compreso né conosciuto
...more
Siv30
קראתי את הספר בזכות המלצה שהשוותה בינו ובין "ככה זה קרה" של נטליה גינצבורג. את הספר של גינצבורג מאוד אהבתי וחשבתי שגם כאן אני אמצא את אותה האיכות המופלאה.

אז להגיד שהתאכזבתי זה יהיה קיצוני ואכזרי מידי, אבל עדין, לא לילד הזה יחלתי.

הספר כורך שתי נובלות או סיפורים קצרים :

הנובלה הראשונה, על שמה נקרא הספר, "מכתב לשופט", מתארת את מסעו האישי של אלאבואן שארל, רופא צרפתי, שביום אחד חדל לאהוב את אשתו ומתאהב בטירוף במרטין, אותה פוגש במקריות באחת הנסיעות שלו לפריס.
הסיפור נכתב בצורת מכתב לשופט, שהיה אחראי
...more
Fflambeau
Simenon is one of my favorite authors, not so much for the Maigret mysteries because they are too formula laden, but the novels without Maigret generally are outstanding. This one is a bit disappointing. The writing here, though, is brilliant as Simenon, writing in the first person, realistically presents the disturbed emotions and writings of a doctor who has killed his mistress. One common complaint here is that the doctor is not very sympathetic. Well, he's not but I don't think that is the m ...more
Valentina Accardi
Prima esperienza con Simenon. Che dire? Ne sono rimasta affascinata.
È la confessione di un uomo che ha vissuto un amore malato, senza via d'uscita.

http://labibliotecadibabele.wordpress...
Melinda
"Have I really lived? I begin to wonder if I have, to think that I have spent my whole life in a waking dream."

Simenon gives us Act of Passion. The story provides a probing glimpse into the mind and life of a man who has lived a rather 'vanilla' life, until he meets a woman and his life is forever altered. Alavoine sits in a French prison having been tried and convicted of murder. Act of Passion is Alavoine's letter to the Magistrate essentially justifying his choices eventually leading to
...more
Betsy Robinson
I read Act of Passion right after reading two of John Updike's "Rabbit" novels, which I described as "human soup." This book was more of that. Very tasty, chunky, multi-layered, and dark.

Simenon's protagonist Charles Alavoine joins the ranks of Updike's Rabbit Angstrom and Vladimir Nobakov's Pale Fire protagonist as men directed by their shadows--as written by male authors who insist on exposing our full human spectrum: from love to the opposite. (Ironically, Alavoine describes himself early on
...more
Xavier
Its an amazing book that digs to the black and murky depths of human emotions through one mans pursuit to reach a form of perfection through disturbing means.
Marcelo
A chilling, dark, unforgiving portrait of the darkest side of love - that which needs to possess and control its object, leaving no stone unturned, until it escalates into domestic tragedy.

Alavoine, the antihero of this story, stumbles into a love affair: he has spent his life in autopilot, doing what is expected of him, not showing much will; in his mind, dominated and driven by the two women who are the constant presence of his daily life - his doting mother and his societal role model wife -
...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
Dr. Charles Alavoine sits in prison, convicted of murdering his mistress. The is no questions as to his guilt. He writes a letter to the examining magistrate who oversaw his case, because he feels there is some connection there, that this M. Ernest Comeliau will understand him. Alavoine writes

You are afraid of yourself, of a frenzy which might take possession of you, afraid of the disgust that you feel growing in you with the slow and inexorable growth of a disease.
We are almost identical men, y
...more
Alisea
Charles Alavoine, medico di campagna, vedovo con due figlie e infelicemente risposato con Armande, invia una lettera al giudice istruttore Ernest Coméliau per spiegare le ragioni dell'omicidio della propria amante Martine.
E' un romanzo-monologo, è la lunga confessione a cuore aperto di un uomo debole, vile, un uomo "senz'ombra",che dopo una vita vissuta in modo passivo, guidata da donne forti, prima la madre poi la seconda moglie, trova l'occasione di rivalsa in Martine.
Ma con questa lettera l'
...more
Ubik 2.0
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrea Hickman Walker
I'm not quite sure how to label this. Is it a mystery? I don't think so, though it's about a murder. Well, more specifically it's about a murderer and how (and why, maybe?) he committed murder. Is it a romance? It's ostensibly about love, though not really. It's supposedly love that made him murder his lover. And there are some parts of it that I agree are a good description of love - the need to be near the one you love, not just physically, the need to know and understand and be completely bar ...more
Bunny
Non c'è spazio per tirare il respiro se non alla fine.
Simenon mi ha stregato con questa passione claustrofobica, assurda, eccessiva e drammatica.
Il protagonista si dichiara colpevole di omicidio premeditato.
Perchè ha ucciso?
Per i fantasmi del passato.
Un amore che non si può definire tale, in quanto possessione e ossessione.
Charles ha amato l'idea di Martine e, per questo, ha cercato di eliminare il suo passato, la sua parte sporca, infangata.
Ma il passato non si può cancellare e si ripres
...more
Camelia
This is the third (and probably the last) book I read by Simenon. He’s a talented writer, that’s for sure, still he has one big fat flaw: total lack of humor. His books always have this serious, somber, grave tone that really annoys me. As for this book in particular, it is rather unsettling, so how can one enjoy such a story? Certainly not me.
Dpdwyer
A bored, middle aged man impulsively leaves his domineering wife and his medical practice, gets on a train, and allows events to unfold as they will. Like many of Simenon’s “romans durs,” the beginning is compelling and brilliantly imagined, while the ending runs out of gas.
Larry
A tale of obsession and murder. Our narrator, a mild mannered businessman, gone suddenly rogue, explains himself in a letter to the magistrate at his trial. Simenon builds a nest in your head and settles in for a nice long stay.
Withanhauser
I really enjoyed this book. It's quick and sinister, and the narrator's great. I like books--like this one--where the narrative voice is deceptive. Georges Simenon apparently wrote almost 200 books during his career, and I'm looking forward to reading much more of him.
Craig Thompson
One of my favourite of Simenon's novels.
Kim
I came to Georges Simenon late in life and that may have been for the better. His deceptively simple prose is transfixing. This short novel follows the romance of one man and the story starts and ends in jail. Simenon's sentences are precise. He is an author who works hard to make sure that the reader does not notice the writing. What is left is pure story and image. But always with a twist. The twist here is also a philosophical question -- is love a virtue or a version of insanity?
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NYRB Classics: Act of Passion, by Georges Simenon 1 8 Oct 18, 2013 10:49AM  
  • Irretrievable
  • Mouchette
  • The Radiance of the King
  • Short Letter, Long Farewell
  • Serpenti nel Paradiso
  • The Outward Room
  • The Pilgrim Hawk
  • The Jokers
  • Novels in Three Lines
  • Alien Hearts
  • Mr. Fortune's Maggot; and, The Salutation
  • Varieties of Exile
  • Fatale
  • The Stories of J.F. Powers
  • Adventures of Sindbad
  • The Expendable Man
  • Wish Her Safe at Home
  • Amsterdam Stories
9693
Simenon was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable of writing 60 to 80 pages per day. His oeuvre includes nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms. Altogether, about 550 million copies of his works have been printed.

He is best known, however, for his 75
...more
More about Georges Simenon...
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“È terribile pensare che siamo tutti uomini, tutti destinati, chi più chi meno, a portare il nostro fardello sotto un cielo sconosciuto, e che non vogliamo fare il minimo sforzo per capirci a vicenda.” 1 likes
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Ed ero l’unico che vedesse gli altri in quel modo, l’unico che si agitasse in un mondo ignaro di quello che stava succedendo a me.

Per anni e anni, insomma, avevo vissuto senza accorgermene. Avevo fatto tutto quello che mi avevano detto di fare con scrupolo, meglio che potevo: ma senza cercare di conoscerne il motivo, senza cercare di capire.”
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