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Act of Passion

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  504 Ratings  ·  73 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
ebook, 111 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by NYRB Classics (first published 1946)
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Glenn Russell
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Originally published in 1947, Georges Simenon’s compelling existential tale, Act of Passion, is perhaps the only one of Simenon’s over five hundred novels written in the first-person. Although assuming the form of a lengthy letter penned in a jail cell by condemned prisoner Charles Alavoine, for our ease of reading Alavoine’s letter has all the usual punctuation for dialogue and takes the form of a conventional novel. Also fortunate for readers is how this New York Review Books (NYRB) edition in
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
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
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Signor giudice, vorrei tanto che un uomo, un uomo solo, mi capisse. E desidererei che quell'uomo fosse lei."
Inizia così la lunga lettera, una confessione a tutti gli effetti, che Charles Alavoine, condannato per omicidio, indirizza al giudice istruttore - Ernest Coméliau - che ha seguito la sua vicenda.

La vita anonima di un uomo, medico, viene letteralmente sconvolta da un incontro casuale. Ed è amore, così all'improvviso o pian piano, non lo capisce nemmeno lui, ma è finalmente "amore"; compli
Nicholas During
Oct 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: francia
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
Dec 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wishlist
L'Amore ossessionato, l'Amore che non conosce nulla di sè se non l'incapacità di amare ed anche in modo malato, straripante e nebbioso: una foschia in riva ad un lago di tristezze che si somigliano. Il dott. Alavoine e Martine non sanno di che amore amarsi: lasciano andare se stessi in balìa di sensazioni che non perdonano anche quando rendono felici.
Nov 08, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nyrb, 2011
if that's love, i never want to experience it.
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In questo Simenon di alto livello, l'imputato d'omicidio Charles Alavoine si racconta al suo giudice in una lunga lettera: gli anni lenti di vita scialba e poi, con Martine, l'amore, improvviso, sconvolgente. Nella lettera, tra i ricordi di Charles, il giudice leggerà di un'estasi, nei due, già foriera di tragedia: “Eravamo felici da morire, Martine e io”...
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ACT OF PASSION. (1947). Georges Simenon. ****1/2.
This is the best of the ‘psychological’ novels by Simenon that I have read to date. It was structured as one long letter from a convicted killer to his judge – written while he was in prison. It was his attempt to reach out to the judge in such a way as to explain his motives for the killing. The prisoner was Charles Alavoine, and he was writing to the presiding judge, M. Comelian. Alavoine was a very bright man, but had a great deal of respect fo
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: belgio

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
Dec 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, simenon
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
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 -
Jan 20, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Alessandra Gadola
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Questo libro è destabilizzante: è il viaggio nella mente di un uomo che uccide una donna. La sua adorata Donna. La uccide per amore , per elevare il loro amore e soprattutto per elevare lei da quella barbara dozzinale volgare puttana era destinata a continuare ad essere se non avesse incontrato lui.
In realtà è una povera donna finita nelle grinfie di un uomo fallito, tiranneggiato tutta la vita dalla madre prima e dalla seconda moglie poi, che riversa su una essere più fragile di lui le sue oss
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.

Dec 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book says so many things, so many things generally not said. Speaks of the things we consider taboo.
জীবনাননদ দাশের মালযবানের কথা মনে হয়।
Giuseppe Del Core
"Signor giudice, vorrei tanto che un uomo, un solo uomo, mi capisse. E desidererei che quell'uomo fosse lei."
Intrigante nel soggetto e promettente nelle premesse, questo romanzo (pseudo)epistolare finisce poi col perdere la brillantezza delle prime pagine, quando la confessione si piega alla cronaca e la annacqua di superflui dettagli. Pian piano la verve si esaurisce fino a perdersi, a intermittenza, in passaggi a volte leziosi, altre volte melensi, risolvendosi solo a tratti in sentenze origin
Jeff Buddle
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shades of Poe! A clear nod to the master of don't-think-me-mad murder narratives. George Simenon captures all the psychological nuance of a man driven mad by his own complacency, only to be driven to kill once he escapes the humdrum boredom of his ordinary life.

It's pulpy but deep. Extravagant, but analytical. In much of crime fiction, the narrator makes unbelievable leaps. Not so much here.

I don't see how you can go wrong with this one. The plot is tightly wrought, each sentence leading into
One of the books being read in a project to reread at least one and read for the first time at least one book from each year since my birth.

A roman dur in the first person with an odd relationship to the emptiness of some existential fiction of the same period. Or, perhaps I should say a first person analysis/justification of the psychology of an extremely controlling male and an overly complaint lover. It was worth the read but not a new favorite.
Frank Hoppe
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
This work takes the form of one long confessional letter addressed to the judge of the protagonist's case, not as a plea for mercy but for understanding. I can see that its impact might have been much greater when it first came out, but the impact for me of self-aggrandizing manifestos has lessened considerably since then. I admired this psychological thriller, but it didn't really speak to me.
Why we do certain things, good or bad, there is always a thought process behind it, sometimes it goes without taking into confederation the consequence of the act....that is Act of Passion !!
How much deep an author can go into ones mind only Simenon knows !!
Željko Obrenović
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books
Simenon ponovo bez greške.
Frankie Saxx
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exquisite and sickening. Act of Passion is an exploration of domestic abuse on par with Lolita as a treatment of sexual abuse.
Andrew De Sousa
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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NYRB Classics: Act of Passion, by Georges Simenon 1 9 Oct 18, 2013 10:49AM  
  • Irretrievable
  • Un bastimento carico di riso
  • Mouchette
  • The Outward Room
  • No Tomorrow
  • Novels in Three Lines
  • The Cost of Living: Early and Uncollected Stories
  • The Radiance of the King
  • My Fantoms
  • The Pilgrim Hawk
  • Amsterdam Stories
  • Short Letter, Long Farewell
  • The Stories of J.F. Powers
  • Fatale
  • The Expendable Man
  • The Jokers
  • Mr. Fortune's Maggot; and, The Salutation
  • Alien Hearts
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...
“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
“Era come se la mia vista fosse diventata troppo acuta, come se, per esempio, fosse improvvisamente diventata sensibile ai raggi ultravioletti.

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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