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The String of Pearls [Paperback]

Joseph Roth , Michael Hofmann
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

23 April 1999
While visiting Vienna, the Shah of Persia falls for a beautiful countess. The Austrian officials arrange for him to spend the night with the countess, but unbeknown to the Shah she is a prostitute who merely resembles the countess. From this night follows a chain of ruinous consequences.

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; New edition edition (23 April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 186207254X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862072541
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 747,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
In the spring of the year 18-, the Shah-in-Shah, the great, exalted and holy monarch, the absolute ruler and overlord of all the lands of Persia, began to feel a sense of malaise of a kind he had never experienced before. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roth at his best 12 April 2012
I first came to Roth with Confession of a Murderer and liked it enough to buy another, choosing arbitrarily The Radetzky March, which is, of course, a masterpiece. I read a few of his slim novels after that and liked them all but nothing seemed quite as good as Radetzky. I had String of Pearls for a year without reading it. It's wonderful. I don't know of another writer who can encompass so much plot, can shift focus from one main character to another and discuss the passage of time, and do it all with such a lightness of touch. The narrative shifts are done so elegantly yet the writing is so pacey and funny and engaging that this elegance seems to be sweeping under the surface like a narrative fairy. You don't even realise it's happening. Taittinger is a classic Roth hero- a tired man out of his depth. The story is moving and funny and enthralling and at his best (and he us certainly at his best here) Roth writes prose as beautiful and captivating as it comes. A lovely book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars masterful 28 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Utterly compelling with regular moments of great insight this is typical Joseph Roth: deep, concise and entertaining. The difference between him and the way others would portray the superficial and un-redemptive characters of high society Vienna is that his hallmark is playfulness not bitterness. There is still much to be loved in the characters and a sweet, fallible humanity is evident throughout. There is absolutely nothing superficial about the characterisation despite the bizarre claims of another review here. I guess that reviewer just confused the nature of the characters with the author's depiction of them? This is a fun story, masterfully told. Don't be misled, to compare this book with the Radetzky March would be like comparing an apple with an orange.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Declining Austria 28 May 2003
There is a tremendous sense of the decline of an empire here.
An arogant army officer, so out of touch with the real world that he doesn't realise he has become bankrupt - both financially and morally - fathers an illegitimate child, arranges a sordid encounter for the 'Shah of Shahs' and, through a failure to act, not only spirals to his own distruction but takes several other people with him.
The personal tale clearly reflects the state the 'state' is in.
The characters are finely drawn with an economy of words which makes this a very sharp edged tale.
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