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Claire Marvel

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  332 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
A young man and woman meet, love each other, and are consumed. It’s a story as old as romance itself, but in this enthralling novel John Burnham Schwartz tells it with heart-stopping new immediacy. In the middle of a rainstorm Julian Rose, a self-effacing Harvard graduate student, takes refuge beneath a girl’s yellow umbrella. The girl, the woman, is Claire Marvel, lovely, ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 11th 2003 by Vintage (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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JT
Apr 16, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fiction
THE BEST love story I've ever read... well actually in a tie with Nicholas Sparks' "The Notebook." Unlike that wonderfully sappy novel, the blueprint for which EVERY SINGLE BOOK he's written since has followed, this one is a heartbreaker from the first meeting of the male and female characters.

Schwartz's writing style is second to none when bringing you into the lives of his characters. None of the characters in this book will you take a liking to. If you are like me you will often times yell o
...more
Gale Martin
May 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Gale by: No one. Just picked it up in the library
This is as fine a contemporary tale of blind devotion and betrayal as you'll find at bookstores or in your local library (that's where I found it, anyway).

Claire Marvel is a great read with a capital "G." Just writing about it makes me want to read it again, but I can't, at least not right now, because I have to reread another book in preparation for my next review. I will however, read a brief passage in an audioclip on this blog, so you can hear John Burnham Schwartz's prose. It will make you
...more
Yulia
Jan 17, 2008 rated it liked it
i got more from this book than i'd expected. at first there was nostalgia to hold onto, of cafe pamplona and casablanca and the fogg (where i did meet someone that changed everything). yes, this was all very labial, as my boyfriend put it, but i enjoyed living through these moments and recalling these places nonetheless. and i even relished schwartz's portrait of the relationship between professors and student, master and slave. it almost made up for the time i'd felt used, to know this was a tr ...more
Christie
Feb 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club-reads
A few year’s back I read Jonathan Burnham Schwartz’s devastating novel Reservation Road and was really impressed. So I was really looking forward to reading Claire Marvel. The book’s opening lines: “There was before her and now there is after her and that is the difference in my life” promised great things- but I’m not sure Schwartz actually delivers.

The book is narrated by Julian Rose, a grad student at Harvard who meets and falls immediately in love with Claire Marvel during a rainstorm. The b
...more
Jen
I didn't necessarily like the story, however I loved Schwartz's writing. The character of Claire was a bit too much to believe in, but I found I was rooting for these two crazy kids. Another reader's review of the book was "Story of an unnecessary love obsession." I might have thought that about this book had I not just come off the heels of reading Love in the Time of Cholera, and I found this love story 20 times more palatable than that one. Forgive me, Mr. Marquez!
Tina
Oct 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
I thought this was a love story but it was more of a tragedy. It's really a book about not being able to let someone go, even if they have chosen to be with someone else. Really, let go and move on!
Abby
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
As a person who has studied and lived in and around Harvard Square, I found the dialogue and characters to be unrealistic.
Tanya
Nov 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Blah blah blah. Had great hopes based on the review of a GR friend that i have never met and I rarely disagree with but this was so average .........NEXT
Brittany
Jan 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
I think this was supposed to be some type of love story, but the characters were too stupid to figure out how to be together. They made me want to pull my hair out.
Susan
Jun 28, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Story of an unnecessary love obsession.
Lorri Steinbacher
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written. A story for anyone who has ever been in love and then foolishly let life overcomplicate it. Expect to spend some time fondly revisiting your own doomed romances.
Kathy
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The writer's ability to see in your mind what he describes in words is amazing. He does more than turn a phrase - he colors it and hands it to you! I loved this book and want more...
Elsje
Feb 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2008
Ik beleefde mooie uurtjes met 'Claire Marvel', een roman van de Amerikaanse schrijver John Burnham Schwartz uit 2002.

Het verhaal
Twee jonge mensen, de politicoloog Julian Rose en de kunsthistorica Claire Marvel ontmoeten elkaar bij toeval: in de stromende regen biedt zij hem een plekje onder haar paraplu aan. Al snel worden de twee vrienden. Ze hebben beiden een bijzondere relatie met hun vader. De vader van Julian is door zijn vrouw verlaten en hangt sindsdien een beetje rond, terwijl hij wanhop
...more
Krystine
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Krystine by: Michael
I was frustrated by this book, but it was so well written that I kept reading. There are some situations in life that just don't make sense, some things we do or do not do that go against all reason and logic, and yet that is how it goes. I cannot for the life of me truly understand how these two do not end up together, yet I know this is sometimes how it goes. In the end I guess he needed closure, needed to be free to let her go and he was able to achieve that. Not all stories have happy ending ...more
Jeanne
Dec 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This was possibly the best book recommended to me by GoodReads to date. I don't usually enjoy anything labeled under the Romance genre but every once in awhile I find an author that can convey an intelligent message that makes it worthwhile reading. (I believe this came to me under Literary Fiction.) In "Claire Marvel," Schwartz shows how truly complex human emotions can be..."choices made, inexplicable mistakes"...simple? maybe, but definitely life changing. Each sentence in this beautifully cr ...more
Melee
Oct 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here's the thing... if I am going to read a book that is devoted to a man's pining for a woman... I need to like the woman (and hopefully the man). I didn't care for either Claire Marvel or her swain whose name I've already forgotten. Oops.

This aforementioned man (AKA the narrator) did eventually marry a woman named Laura, and after a mere few pages of knowing her, I cared about and loved her more than anyone else in the book. If this story had been about Laura, I'm sure I would have liked it a
...more
Heather Johnson
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite book, and has been since the first time I read it maybe 7 or 8 years ago. The characters are well developed, and the plot is as rich as it is wonderfully frustrating. Each time I read this book (once every year or two), I attach a different meaning to it, as I find a different way to relate to the characters, primarily Claire.

The language is beautiful without being esoteric, although in order to enjoy the full experience of the novel, your vocabulary should be fairly advanced
...more
Brooke
Jul 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
I read this at the recommendation of my aunt. I don't know what I was expecting exactly -- maybe a more typical, cookie-cutter type of novel/love story, but I was suprised by what I found. The only phrase that really comes to mind is 'haunting prose'. This is definitely a book to re-read every now & then -- one of those books that each time you read it you are going to get something different, something more, out of it.
Kirsten
Sep 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: new-fiction
This is a well-written and carefully-crafted novel. I enjoyed with nostalgia the Harvard Square setting and visits to so many of my grad school haunts. I just didn't like Claire Marvel, the character. I'm generally irked when men write about mysterious, unattainable, gorgeous, passionate, unreliable women who snare and then trample on the hearts of ordinary, mortal men. Isn't it really just about sex, and basking in her rarified glow?
Leila
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm still not quite sure if I love or hate the ending. But this is definitely a book you would want to read again, if only to savor Schwartz's prose. The story is quite depressing - I went through it with a lump in my throat, and with a deep desire to shake both Julian Rose and Claire Marvel - but it's beautifully written.
Mara
Feb 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is an achingly beautiful love story infused with the tragedy that all love seems to carry with it like a shadow. Yet the beauty shines through and, despite the ache, the gift of love and intense sense of connection buoys you up. The ebb and flow of this book was like riding a wave with striking depth and detail yet without lingering too long on any one wave as to miss the overall flow.
Elysabeth
Sep 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who liked James Salter's Light Years
A simple but haunting love story -- I thought this was a great novel. I'm not always a fan of things written in the first person -- particularly love stories, but I think that Burnham Schwartz did a great job of illuminating Julian's love (and awe, and respect) for Claire. It was a swift read, though I really wanted to linger on a lot of the descriptive passages.
Tamara
Feb 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book definitely grew on me. the writing style was completely different from the book i had just finished reading {the paris wife} so it took a good 50-75 pages to switch gears. once i did, i enjoyed every chapter...in fact i enjoyed it so much i talked myself out of cleaning house earlier today. dusting can wait...but the end of this story can't!
Larain
Nov 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The 1st book I've read by this author. Enjoyed it.
Cara
Nov 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
tragic and heartbreaking
Emily
Jan 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Maureen
This was an excellent book and the author really painted a picture...I got a lot more out of this book then i thought i would.
Linda
May 30, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5 for this love story that reminded me of Nicholas Sparks' writing. I thought "Reservation Road" was a better story, so I was a bit disappointed in this one.
Leslie
Dec 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Loved this book. I was surprised how much I liked it actually and how much I was thinking about the story after I was done - even as I went onto another book.
Karen
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Another one I don't remember much about, just that I really liked it.
Abby Drucker
Dec 15, 2007 added it
Recommends it for: all my girlfriends
excellent - really interesting and a great love story was sad when it was over
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John Burnham Schwartz grew up in New York City. At Harvard College, he majored in Japanese studies, and upon graduation accepted a position with a prominent Wall Street investment bank, before finally turning the position down after selling his first novel. Schwartz has taught fiction writing at Harvard, The University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, and Sarah Lawrence College, and he is the literary d ...more
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“There was before her and now there is after her, and that is the difference in my life.” 5 likes
“Inaction is not the same thing as patience. It is instead a kind of perpetual waiting room, a sterile holding pen for unlived desire, a negative sanctuary. You wait and wait, but the receptionist is very stern and, somehow, the appointment book always full. To make matters worse, crowded into the adjoining cell like so many desperate immigrants, and separated from you by nothing more than the thin permeable wall of your own fear, are all the anticipated rejections of your life. You would think it might be noisy in there, but you'd be wrong. It is totally silent. There's a small Plexiglas window through which you can study these things, this silence, if you have the inclination and the nerve. And eventually, if you have been a diligent enough student and not wasted your time in dreaming, you come to understand that it is not the rejections that make this a prison, not the defeats, but rather your own grim expectation of defeat; not life but its bodily outline drawn in chalk, where the body should be but isn't, where it once was, this ingrained cowardly pessimism, this relentless betting against love and instinct. This is where the silence comes from.” 5 likes
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