El's Reviews > A Life

A Life by Guy de Maupassant
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Jul 17, 2009

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bookshelves: 1001-books-list, 19th-centurylit-late
Read in July, 2009

Jeanne grew up in a sheltered life, being the heiress to a fortune and having gone to school at a convent. After finishing school she meets Viscount de Lamare who woos her, weds her and takes her off to Corsica for a spectacular honeymoon. Upon returning from France Jeanne finds her new husband is not quite the man she expected. Her naivety is overwhelming at times, but clearly that is point. We follow Jeanne's life through all of her disillusionment across the years into her senior years. She never quite shakes the rose-tinted glasses off her eyes and the reader feels simultaneously sorry for and angry at her for it.

Being the first novel written by Maupassant it's a rather decent book, though as an early novel it's clear to see why he's better known for his short stories. The attempt at character development falls short since Jeanne remains relatively the same throughout the story. Maupassant's descriptions of landscapes are probably the best part of the book, and surprisingly he delves into a blatant sexual territory (complete with orgasms outdoors!).

As a parody of contemporaries of Maupassant and the novels written before 1883 this is really a fun book. The important thing is not to take it too seriously because you will want to smack the shit out of Jeanne.
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