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About Schmidt


3.20  ·  Rating details ·  718 ratings  ·  93 reviews
Proud, traditional, and impeccably organized, Albert Schmidt is a button-down lawyer of the old school.But now, after years of carefulmanagement, his life is slowly unraveling.His beloved wife has recently died.He stumbles--or is he being pushed?--into earlyretirement.And his daughter, his only child, is planning to marry a man Schmidt cannot approve of, for reasons he can ...more
Paperback, 275 pages
Published September 8th 1997 by Ballantine Books (first published September 3rd 1996)
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Average rating 3.20  · 
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 ·  718 ratings  ·  93 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Apr 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-to-film
"Relatively soon, I will die. Maybe in 20 years, maybe tomorrow, it doesn't matter. Once I am dead and everyone who knew me dies too, it will be as though I never existed. What difference has my life made to anyone. None that I can think of. None at all."

 photo LouisBegley_zps618d1066.jpg

Begley was born Ludwik Begleiter in a region that at that was part of the Polish Republic, but is now part of the Ukraine. On the run from the Germans, his mother and he used forged identity papers that enabled them to pretend to be Polish
Clif Hostetler
May 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
A grumpy old white male, that's one way to describe Schmidt. He seems to hate everybody and everything, including himself. But maybe his behavior can be explained by the fact that what he thought was a successful life and career has disappeared after his retirement and death of his wife.

His wife had been the facilitator of his social life outside of work, and his career as a corporate lawyer with a major New York City law firm was ended with gentle push into early retirement because his area of
Mar 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
I'm not going to rehash the plot, because it's right there by the book. Honestly, the plot isn't worth mentioning as there just didn't seem to be one. Yes, Schmidt is a recent widow with depression to deal with, but the guy is a walking pity party start to finish. I could not stand him. I had to force myself to finish reading because I was waiting for the emotional growth I felt had to be coming after all that build up and pointing out his character flaws. I thought there would be some ...more
Sarah Al-jasser
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was made to be relatively realistically bloomy. I teared at many instances and at many chapters specially towards the end. I think the story really depicts one of the most renowned fears of all time and that's loneliness of senility and the personality change that comes afterwards. I relate very much to Schmidt and I sympathize with him deeply.

My favorite quote was "Relatively soon, I will die. Maybe in 20 years, maybe tomorrow, it doesn't matter. Once I am dead and everyone who knew
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
Louis Begley’s novel, About Schmidt, tells the story of Albert Schmidt after his wife Mary died and before his daughter, Charlotte, goes through with her plan to marry a former colleague of Schmidt in a prestigious NY law firm . . . and a Jew, imagine that. Schmidt is lonely, rich, and lost. He and Mary were a good pair although he fooled around on most business trips. They had a large income, a large NY apartment, and a large house on Long Island. None of this means much to him with her ...more
Nov 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Except for dealing with a retired and recently widowed man named Schmidt with a daughter who is getting married, this book is nothing like the movie. This is a smartly written character study about a successful and affluent man in his sixties living in the Hamptons who is equal parts honest and self-deluded, cruel and kind. I think you need to be over fifty to appreciate many of the issues the book addresses: aging, loneliness after the loss of a spouse, coping with adult children, the ...more
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-i-ve-read
I am rating this as one of my best for some quotes that i loved in it. I didn't expect to like this book very much but i was amazed at how Louis Begley could help the reader understand what goes on in the mind of a man who has retired from work and life.
I have to note here that the book has nothing to do with the movie starring Jack Nickolson. Well the movie is based on this novel but there are very different to the point that I would not connect them in any way. If anyone avoided this book
Jul 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009, read-library
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 20-ce, us
The setting here is very, one might say supremely, bourgeois. Albert Schmidt, newly widowed, recently retired from a cutthroat Manhattan law firm, is fully fitted out with all the appurtenances of great material success. The circles in which he moves are peopled by the very rich and often famous. Six months after his wife's death his daughter, Charlotte, announces her engagement to Jon Riker. Riker, a former mentee, is disliked by Schmidt for numerous reasons. One reason being that he's a Jew. ...more
Jan 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review contains a bit of a spoiler, so read at your own risk. I can say unabashedly that the writing is really structurally lovely. I haven't read sentences like his in a long time, and I really loved the really high-blown aristocratic stuff that is used mainly in the beginning of the story, it's perfect. Plot-wise, however, I really wanted something else to happen... there were so many times where it was implied that we were actually watching a man unravel (instead of metamorphose), that I ...more
Brent Legault
Jan 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Had I quit reading two-thirds of the way through, I might have left off feeling better about About Schmidt. Instead, I read on and I feel a little sourer for it.

The denouement was too pat for my taste and for that I'm a bit resentful.

The language throughout was a little dull, despite its adding a new word (esurient) to my vocabulary. It's tone and timbre appealed to me, however, at least, as I said, until somewhere around chapter XIV (which I read outloud to my wife) where the dialogue began to
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
ABOUT SCHMIDT is a very well-written and intriguing novel which relates the actions and observations of a deeply flawed, and ethically challenged individual. Albert Schmidt is one of the most well-defined fictional characters that I have read in a long time, and reminded me of John Updike's captivating portrait of Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom from many years ago. Both novelists examine White Upper Middle Class Males who are forced to evolve, and try to find their proper place in a world that seems ...more
Nov 16, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book came recommended, but didn't live up to it. It is well-written, certainly and the main character, Schmidt, was interesting enough-- though not terribly sympathetic-- but his love interest, Carrie, the waitress was not. Not well drawn, not believable, not interesting, not sympathetic, not unsympathetic. Not anything. Given my own predilections, a better executed book about a lonely, morally ambiguous middle aged man infatuated with a waitress-- who after all is required by the terms of ...more
Mar 16, 2013 rated it did not like it
For once the film adaptation was much, much better than the book. If I had read the book before the adaptation with Jack Nicholson came out, I would never have gone to see it. Having seen the movie and loved it, I was excited to read the book.... How disappointing. The film took the nugget of this book, some of the character, and made a film that is warm, quirky, sad, intelligent, and very moving. The book, however, was technically well written (though a little too rambling and introspective for ...more
Rebecca McNutt
Apr 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
About Schmidt is one of those books that stays with you for a long time after you've read it. Although I will concede that the film adaptation has a certain quirky spark to it that the book is lacking in, I will say that this story in text still has a whole lot to offer.
Aug 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-for-guys
The book was very well done, alternating between third and first person narrative effortlessly. Schmidt reminded me of all of the older male relatives that I knew as a kid growing up -- bigoted, stubborn, horndogs, but still with a heart, somewhere, of gold. Not that I want to be that way, but I am getting old... The movie is simply horrible. It doesn't at all follow the book! Arrgh!
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
A good read. Nothing like the movie that supposedly was based on this novel. Some overly-detailed sex descriptions, but a good story. Now on to the next in this series. The author, by the way, and his wife, are very interesting people apparently.
Apr 09, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Although everyone seemed to like the movie, all of my fellow book club members (including me) HATED the book!
Feb 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
I am looking forward to getting old.
Deborah Noel
Sep 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book has little resemblance to the movie (Thank God). I loved it so much, I read just about everything available by Begley at my local library. Begley is a master.
Oct 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Dry humor that delivers a thought provoking story about aging, letting go, and opening up. There is a subplot that addresses anti-Semitism.
Oct 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Sooo much better than the movie! Nothing like the movie.
Lois Begley is a cool, calm elegant writer.
Readin him is like drinking a dry martini!
Apr 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Awesome story about what happens when you're old and you've been left behind.
Jan 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
Enjoyed the movie, so tried the book. Not as impressed. It was just "OK"
Jan 01, 2009 rated it did not like it
Creepy, and not in a good way.
Dean Brooks
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
The riveting tale of an aging WASP as he heroically struggles to overcome his anti-Semitism. The sexual escapades of a lecherous retiree who with little effort and even less game inexplicably seduces the pants off a beautiful 20-year old Puerto Rican waitress. The astonishing and highly relatable story of a wealthy Hampton lawyer as he tries to come to peace with his only daughter and child marrying a man of which he does not approve. The tear-jerking episode of a widower who mourns his recently ...more
Anup Sinha
Dec 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I like the movie MUCH more than the book! I am definitely a book person and I can say that of only a few other adaptations. Granted, in each of those situations, I had seen the movie before the book and fallen in love with the movie first.

My love for the Jack Nicholson film is what inspired me to read the book and I’m glad I did, if not just to see how the author intended to tell the story. While the general theme is consistent, i.e. a retired man examining his purpose, the book has a largely
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was great. It's one of those books that I enjoyed but am a little bit embarrassed to admit it. It's a kind of like a tawdry sexy romance novel, only written from the standpoint of a man, for men. If you didn't think there was such a thing and that it would be so much fun to read, now you know!

The hero is a grumpy old man. If you're grumpy and old at heart like I am, then you will relate. He smokes and drinks, all the time, with no repercussions. He says what he wants. He does what he
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Book upon which movie was based. The life of a retired lawyer for the first 6 months after his wife dies. Nobody is likeable: Schmidt is anti-Semitic, has no hobbies, drinks too much, cheated on his wife every chance he got while traveling on business, and largely ignored his daughter while she was growing up. The daughter is now selfish and self-centered; her fiancé is a jerk – who will probably end up like Schmidt. Schmidt is 60+; starts an affair with a Hispanic 20 yr old waitress (who has ...more
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Okay, I thought it was kinda weird. The style of writing, the context. The only indication of a conversation was a paragraph break, no quotation marks at all. And, geeze, I couldn't get over the lust of this guy, whose wife had died several months earlier. At one point, I had to ask Daniel, "Is this how men think?" I prefer to be naive.
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Louis Begley is an American novelist.

Begley was born Ludwik Begleiter in Stryi at the time part of Poland and now in Ukraine, as the only child of a physician. He is a survivor of the Holocaust due to the multiple purchases of Aryan papers by his mother and constant evasion of the Nazis. They survived by pretending to be Polish Catholic. The family left Poland in the fall of 1946 and settled in

Other books in the series

Schmidt (3 books)
  • Schmidt Delivered (Schmidt, #2)
  • Schmidt Steps Back