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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A powerful novel rich in emotion and symbolism
In this novel, Baldwin captures the torment faced by a young man in a foreign city with desires he dare not admit to himself. David spends his life running from his sexuality with the result that he denies and destroys his lover Giovanni. Giovanni's chaotic and shambolic room provides a powerful symbolic back drop to the events which unfold within. The novel leaves a...
Published on 15 Oct 2001

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6 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I Might Need To Read This Again One Day
I decided that while I was in Paris I would read a book that was based there. I had several hours to kill on the Eurostar and wanted something that wasn't a holiday read and wasn't a tome as I was only in Paris for 48 hours. I had bought The Hunchback of Notre Dame but didn't think I would read it, I kind of wish I had stuck to my first thought, instead I bought the slim...
Published on 30 Jan 2009 by Simon Savidge Reads


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A powerful novel rich in emotion and symbolism, 15 Oct 2001
By A Customer
In this novel, Baldwin captures the torment faced by a young man in a foreign city with desires he dare not admit to himself. David spends his life running from his sexuality with the result that he denies and destroys his lover Giovanni. Giovanni's chaotic and shambolic room provides a powerful symbolic back drop to the events which unfold within. The novel leaves a bitter taste - you can't run forever and be happy. However this is a message to society and not the individual - David and Giovanni were constrained by an era where homosexuality was synonymous with inferiority and perversion. Within these constraints they could not be happy as a couple.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition., 9 April 2009
I don't even know where to begin from in reviewing this short little book. Well, maybe a good start would certainly be: read it. It's an amazing novel, which contains much more than what is only superficially summarized on its cover, that is a love triangle involving the striking discovery, for the main character, to be gay. That would really mean to be unfair. "Giovanni's Room" is a book about love and about feelings, but also about loneliness, homelessness and the burden of our own choices. And above all it's a book about how really difficult is to live and enjoy freedom, without feeling always wrong and always in need of an escape.
I'd like to quote a passage that stroke me particularly, a passage which complete the title I gave to this review (another quote from the book itself of course). I think it can give you an idea of the beautiful "painful" logic of this book.

He smiled, 'Why, you will go home and then you will find that home is not home any more. Then you will really be in trouble. As long as you stay here, you can always think: One day I will go home.' He played with my thumb and grinned. 'N'est-ce pas?'
'Beautiful logic' I said. 'You mean I have a home to go to as long as I don't go there?'
He laughed. 'Well, isn't it true? You don't have a home until you leave it and then, when you have left it, you never go back.'
'I seem,' I said, 'to have heard this song before.'
'Ah, yes,' said Giovanni, 'and you will certainly hear it again. It is one of those songs that somebody, somewhere, will always be singing.'
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful work, 5 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This novel is achingly beautiful. It is the sort of book that gets you in the gut. David's rejection of Giovanni is ultimately a rejection of himself. It warns ultimately that if you are not true to yourself a sad fate awaits.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, honest, and painfully realistic..., 4 Jun 2000
By A Customer
James Baldwin's "Giovanni's Room" ranked second in the top 100 Gay Novels of all time. Its beauty continues to draw readers from different social groups because of its remarkable honesty. Based on the American expatriate's life in Paris in the middle of the 20th Century, this novel is about a man who falls in love with a man and forgets all about the taboos and stereotypes that govern our lives, only to wake up later and find himself amidst an unbearably prejudiced world, entrapped by his own cultural background. I recommend this book for its literary style, plot, and characterization which are by far among the best ranking in American literature.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, moving and very, very honest., 1 Oct 2000
By A Customer
In 'Giovanni's Room', James Baldwin tells a moving story about a man confused by the contrast between what he feels and what he thinks he should feel. In a sense, it tells the story of the conflict all homosexual men must go through, because of the values society has forced on them, and their own inhibitions. This is a powerful, intense piece of writing, that should be read by all!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, 29 April 1999
By A Customer
This literary masterpiece is by far the strongest, most emotional gay novel of all time. The characters, particularly Giovanni, are written very well. The plot is gripping. Once you start it, you won't put it down. Baldwin shows in Giovanni's Room his capabilities of portraying evil, and love, so strikingly it is like a spell.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My all time favorite book, 26 Sep 2002
By A Customer
If you've never read any James Baldwin before I urge you do so. He is a writer of great power, able to take you into the world of the characers and able to empathise with those characters and understand how they would react to the circumstances in which he places them. As a gay black man in America at the time of the black rights movement he was victimised on both fronts, hence his characters are often black, or gay, or both.
Giovanni's Room remains the best book I have ever read. I have recommended it to many friends, all have whom have loved it, many have been moved by it. If you read this I strongly suspect you will want to read more by this man.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, and painful, 25 May 2007
This is an excellent novel, I could not put it down, in spite of the fact that, knowing that it would all go terribly bad, I was always scared of what could happen. It is a sad story, and yet so true, in the way it portrays a city, a historical period, and the realisation (and denial) of one's homosexuality. Yes, the main character is a coward, and yet Baldwin does not push the reader into hating him. We don't like him, we would not behave like him, still we can understand.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complusive, Charming, Tragic, 13 Sep 2002
By A Customer
Baldwin's style is completely engaging; time and again he seems to hit exactly the right note, choosing that elusive and precise word. Giovanni's Room, bravely published in the middle of 1950's McCarthyism, tells the tale of a young American's inner conflict with his Homosexuality. David is a writer in Paris who meets an Italian Waiter, Giovanni. While he anguishes between his newfound lover and former fiancé he tragically fails to see Giovanni's real love. Compulsive, charming and tragic this work confirms Baldwin's near mastery of the written word.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illusion of choice, 5 Feb 2010
By 
Robert Cordner (Northern Ireland, UK) - See all my reviews
A short novel about the sometimes painful illusion of choice. The central character, David, an American in Paris, believes he can control his destiny, but his desire to forge this in a particular direction comes from severe prescriptions on his sexuality. Baldwin's depiction of David's struggle to deal with the inherent tension of his situation is moving and unsentimental: David is neither hero nor anti-hero. In a like manner, the two lovers, David and Giovanni, have little love for gay Paris, despite fleeing to its bosom. They cannot conceive that its seediness reflects the attitudes of society outside rather than those within, and they deride the middle-age men in their lives whose attention and money both repel and attract respectively. As the novel develops, Giovanni appears the more progressive, reconciled with his love and identity, albeit largely confined to his eponymous 'room'. But the revelation of his life before Paris, and his reaction to the loss of love, reveal the shallow foundations on which his confidence is built.
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Giovanni's Room (Penguin Great Loves)
Giovanni's Room (Penguin Great Loves) by James Baldwin (Paperback - 2 Aug 2007)
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