Sunday, 17 May 2009

Giovanni's Room

Title: Giovanni’s Room

Author: James Baldwin

Number of pages: 159

Started: 10 May 2009

Finished: 17 May 2009

Opening words:

I stand at the window of this great house in the south of France as night falls, the night which is leading me to the most terrible morning of my life. I have a drink in my hand, the bottle is at my elbow. I watch my reflection in the darkening gleam of the window pane. My reflection is tall, perhaps rather like an arrow, my blond hair gleams. My face is like a face you have seen many times. My ancestors conquered a continent, pushing across death-laden plains, until they came to an ocean which faced away from Europe into a darker past.

I may be drunk by morning, but that will not do any good. I shall take the train to Paris anyway. The train will be the same, the people, struggling for comfort and, even, dignity on the straight-backed, wooden, third-class seats will be the same, and I will be the same.

Plot summary:

When David meets the sensual Giovanni in a bohemian bar, he is swept into a passionate love affair. But his girlfriend’s return to Paris destroys everything. Unable to admit to the truth, David pretends the liaison never happened; while Giovanni’s life descends into tragedy. United by the theme of love, the writings in the Great Loves series span over two thousand years and vastly different worlds. Readers will be introduced to love’s endlessly fascinating possibilities and extremities: romantic love, platonic love, erotic love, gay love, virginal love, adulterous love, parental love, filial love, nostalgic love, unrequited love, illicit love, not to mention lost love, twisted and obsessional love.

What I thought:

I read this book aloud and it is a good read in itself, but also very good to read out loud. It is not a cheery book, but it is a very good one. It was a beautifully written book as well. From the beginning it was clear the story would not turn out well, but the plot was very engaging as it descended to its tragic end. An excellent read.

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