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Act of Passion

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  271 ratings  ·  41 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
Published October 18th 2011 by NYRB Classics (first published 1946)
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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
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
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
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
if that's love, i never want to experience it.
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
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
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.
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
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.

"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 mu
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
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.
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 -
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
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'
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
Primo romanzo di simenon che leggo, e non c'è maigret. a caldo non so ancora dire se mi sia piaciuto o meno. Non è un giallo, è una confessione dell'omicida che racconta il suo delitto contestualizzandolo a pieno nella sua vita. Un delitto come giusta conseguenza del suo passato, del suo presente, dell'amore.
Non condivido nulla di ciò che ha scritto ma l'analisi mi piace, perchè non lascia niente di trascurato.
Ora aspetto di conoscere anche un maigret!
Il mio primo Simenon mi ha lasciato parecchio insoddisfatta, devo ammetterlo..
Non so, forse il genere della lettera non è nelle mie corde! Pur riconoscendo all'autore grandi meriti, non sono riuscita ad entrare nella storia né tantomeno ad affezionarmi al protagonista!

Vabbé, uno scivolone può starci :D Vedremo con il prossimo libro!
Lindsey Suiçide
If it was Simenon's intent to make the reader fully despise the main character in this book, he has succeeded. It was like reading a car crash; I knew from the first few pages that I hated Charles for his narcissism and complete disregard for the people in his life, yet I couldn't put it away until I'd actually finished it.
Un'amara riflessione sui lati più bui dell'amore, sulla smania di possesso e appartenenza ad un'altra persona, sentimenti più che umani in tutta la loro fallibilità. Il tutto confezionato in un'atmosfera dolce e dolorosa che pochi oltre a Simenon riescono ad evocare senza scivolare nel melenso. Una lettura invernale.
Should not the correct spelling be "Les Romans Durs" de Georges Simenon? As a French teacher, I thought it important to point out the incorrect spelling in your article. The title should actually read
"Les Romans Durs"
Disturbing, but very well done.
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NYRB Classics: Act of Passion, by Georges Simenon 1 6 Oct 18, 2013 10:49AM  
  • Irretrievable
  • The Outward Room
  • Short Letter, Long Farewell
  • The Radiance of the King
  • Mouchette
  • The Pilgrim Hawk
  • Nido vuoto
  • A Meaningful Life
  • My Fantoms
  • The Expendable Man
  • Amsterdam Stories
  • The Jokers
  • Mr. Fortune's Maggot
  • The Cost of Living: Early and Uncollected Stories
  • The Letter Killers Club
  • Wish Her Safe at Home
  • Novels in Three Lines
  • The Pumpkin Eater
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 about Georges Simenon...
The Man Who Watched Trains Go By Dirty Snow The Yellow Dog Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett The Strangers in the House

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