Tuesday 11 December 2018

Like Death

Finished December 1
Like Death by Guy de Maupassant, translated by Richard Howard

This book takes us to Paris in the late 1800s. Olivier Bertin is a well-known, and well-liked painter, a man in middle age, never married. Years ago, at a party he saw a young woman of society, the Countess de Guilleroy, Anne, and expressed an interest in painting her. He was already well-known for his portraits, and, hearing of his interest, she approached him.
The two became lovers, a secret known only to them. Olivier constantly wishes that they were able to marry. They have been in a relationship for years, and Olivier often attends gatherings at the Countess' home. When they first met, the Countess had a young daughter, Annette, and for recentl years Annette has been in the country at her grandmother's, spending time with the ailing woman. Now she is ready to debut in society, and returns to Paris, and Olivier is struck by how much she looks like her mother. Her parents have already planned a match for her, and she proves herself to be quite charming in her society appearances.
But Olivier can't take his eyes off her, finding his love for her mother renewed by her youthful beauty, and Anne begins to realize that he is falling in love with her daughter, despite his love for her.
This is a story of love, of the world of salons, opera, and public walks through the parks. It is a story told with an understanding of the innermost feelings of the characters.
Maupassant is, as always, a master.

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