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Madame [Paperback]

Antoni Libera
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.67 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

24 May 2004
Madame tells the story of a self-absorbed Polish teenager as he pursues intellectual maturity, and the woman of his dreams, his French teacher 'Madame', in the communist-dominated Warsaw of the early 1970s. Libera paces his exuberant young hero's fulminations, fantasies and discoveries beautifully, building a remarkably subtle characterisation of a free mind in a repressive culture. This is one of those rare novels which reminds us why we love books. A consummate literary entertainment.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd; New Ed edition (24 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841955205
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841955209
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 12.8 x 3.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 292,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


* Essentially a vision of a life-changing teenage crush, Libera's debut novel ... captures the frustrations of grasping for anything of the world from behind the Iron Curtain and of battling or passion of any kind. The Scotsman * Madame is skilfully written and the subtle backdrop of communism is interesting and convincing. The List * This is an old story made fresh with an excellent evocation of a spirit-crushing school system - a microcosm of communist rule under which the layers of life are corrupted by concessions, compromises and deceptions. The Times

About the Author

Born in 1949, is a literary critic, translator and theatre director, noted especially for his collaborative work with Samuel Beckett. Madame is his first novel. He lives in Warsaw, Poland.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
For many years I used to think I had been born too late. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Beautiful intriguing book. Some lovely descriptions intertwine the lighter elements relating to 'Madame', and the boy's fantasies concerning her, and the darker elements relating to the suppression of academic freedom under a communist-run state. Sweetly observed study of a boy's youth and defining moments. The Washington Post compares the novel to 'Portrait of an Artist' - 'Madame' offered me more insight into the fascinations and infatuations of a boy as he matured - and in addition there was a fabulous sense of place. The insights into the Polish spirit are very worthwhile and there are lots of great literary references. Perhaps the millions who have read 'Memoirs of a Geisha' and Louis de Bernieres' work might think of giving this a try - it's a very genuine book. (I've never reviewed anything at all but wanted to write about Madame as it really deserves to be read and it looked lonely on Amazon's website with no-one saying how great it is!) (from Melanie in Brockley)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wit, suspence, erudition 15 April 2010
By ella
This wonderful novel combines so many ingredients difficult to find in modern fiction : wit,suspence, erudition, a tremendous sense of place and time, vivid characters.It also gives us a great portrait of a middle class life in Poland under communism, something that an average English-speaking reader knows nothing about.
I love this book and cannot recommend it highly enough. Agnieszka Kolakowska's translation is excellent, it really doesn't read like a translation at all, again a rare thing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern French Tragedy 6 Feb 2012
In this exceptionally good novel Libera uses the infatuation of a precocious schoolboy with his French teacher to contrast the drab and corrupt culture of post war Poland with the sparkle of French literary and artistic society.

"Madame's" background intertwines with different aspects of wartime and postwar Polish experience producing a remarkable account that is mostly unknown to Western readers (but could explain a lot of present day Poland), and as a bonus, and perhaps on a more superficial level, the story is an emotional roller coaster of a game with a great dénouement.
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