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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Infatuations - Javier Marias
New novels by J.M.Coetzee and Javier Marias in a single month? It must be the best March in history for the readers of the world.

The Infatuations is a novel about grief, love, death. It's more focussed, more concentrated, than much of Marias's work I've read up to now - this is both good and bad. The novel has drive and direct force and I finished it in a...
Published 18 months ago by RachelWalker

versus
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Please read all the reviews....
Normally I begin writing a review knowing how many stars I'm going to give the book. With this book, Javier Marias' "The Infatuations", I'm beginning by writing the review and then determining the number of stars. This is a book that has already received reviews on both Amazon/US and Amazon/UK ranging from one to five stars, and in general, all the reviewers have...
Published 14 months ago by Jill Meyer


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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Infatuations - Javier Marias, 6 Mar 2013
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Infatuations (Hardcover)
New novels by J.M.Coetzee and Javier Marias in a single month? It must be the best March in history for the readers of the world.

The Infatuations is a novel about grief, love, death. It's more focussed, more concentrated, than much of Marias's work I've read up to now - this is both good and bad. The novel has drive and direct force and I finished it in a couple of sittings. However I did on occasion find myself wishing that he'd let himself with his digressions a bit more! There a few bits and pieces that I do think a little more could have been done with, such as the initial conceit of one character observing two others in a cafe every single morning. But there we are. Yes it could have been 500 pages and I would have liked it. As it is it's 350 and I like it. No, not like it: love it. Of course!

I adore Marias's style. It is made for my heart, my mind. Its rhythms coil themselves into my brain perfectly. His writing is hypnotic, languorous, philosophical, striking. He builds up themes and colours with repetitions, digressions, asides, tangents. He's a writer who manages to create both vague impressions and also to convey very specific ideas at the same time, in a completely unique way.

As far as I'm concerned, he's a genius. Anything he writes is worth reading, and this as much as anything. It's a fascinating book, superbly written. To be honest it's an ideal Marias introduction - it diverges, wanders, a little less than some of his other books, the themes are more focused, there are fewer events. It has volumes to say about love, trust, death, dying, returning. I don't see myself reading a better book this year.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Prudent Young Woman.", 16 April 2013
By 
Sue Kichenside - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Infatuations (Hardcover)
Shameful to say, this is my first Javier Marías book and I have come away from it - just this moment - slightly shell-shocked by the power it had to move me.

The story is told by María Dolz who becomes entranced with a happy, loving couple who breakfast at the same café as her every morning; without their knowing it, they enable her to start her working day on a note of optimism. Then, one day, they aren't there and María is left feeling bereft. From a newspaper, María learns that the husband, Miguel, has met a brutal death. Later, she sees his widow in the café and approaches her to offer condolences thus setting off a chain of events in which María, the Prudent Young Woman - as the couple had termed her, becomes pivotal.

Javier Marías has constructed a deeply thought-provoking novel around the subjects of love, loss and the nature of time. "We cannot know what time will do to us with its fine, indistinguishable layers upon layers, we cannot know what it might make of us...its treacherous minutes and its sly seconds, until a strange, unthinkable day arrives, when nothing is as it always was..."

An existential novel such as The Infatuations leads the reader to peer into its hidden depths. It is interesting to note that the author's name for the narrator is María and his name for the dead man's best friend with whom she falls in love is Javier. Then there are the different spellings of Miguel's surname - Desvern or Deverne - which are explained at the outset and yet the names continue to alternate throughout the book. Whether these things are significant or not though, I'm not clever enough to discern. Perhaps I'm looking for something that isn't there but such is the deeply exploratory nature of the writing that Javier Marías makes the reader think. And think again.

An extraordinary book - and the front cover photography on the hard-back edition catches the essence of infatuation brilliantly.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Stylish and Philosophical Enquiry, 4 Mar 2013
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Infatuations (Hardcover)
Javier Maria's latest novel 'The Infatuations' is narrated by Maria Dolz, a woman in her late thirties, who works for a Madrid publisher and who takes her breakfast every morning in the same cafe. At this rather ordinary cafe, Maria observes an unusually handsome married couple as they breakfast together before going their separate ways. Maria can see the man and woman are very close by the way they look at each other and how they seem to take pleasure in one another's company, and Maria enjoys watching them and imagining their lives. One day, the couple are not there, and Maria is surprised to discover that she feels strangely deprived of their company, even though they have never really spoken to her. It is only later, when Maria is made aware of the brutal and fatal stabbing of the man, that she discovers who the couple are.

Some time later, when Maria sees the woman at the cafe again, she decides to offer her condolences and is surprised when the woman, Luisa, invites her to call at her home that evening. At Luisa's home, where Luisa talks to Maria about the intense grief and bewilderment caused by her husband's death, Maria meets Javier Diaz-Varela, whom she describes to the reader as handsome and virile, with delicate features, almond-shaped eyes and lips that make her want to kiss them. After this meeting at Luisa's home, Maria finds herself becoming increasingly involved in the lives of Luisa and Javier and, as she spends more time in Javier's company and becomes closer to him, she discovers things which make her look at the seemingly random and apparently motiveless death of Luisa's husband in a different light.

This is not the average type of murder mystery novel, just as Javier Marias is not the average kind of writer. It says in my copy, that with this novel, Marias brilliantly imagines the murder novel as a metaphysical enquiry, addressing existential questions of life, death, love and morality. And that is exactly what this novel is. This is a beautifully and elegantly written story where, through language, events are carefully analysed (which, as Marias was a student of English philology and his father was a well-known philosopher, might explain his style of writing) and I found this novel an intriguing, intelligent and thought-provoking read, with an intellectual rather than emotional appeal. This may not be the book to choose if you are looking for a fast-paced, plot-driven story, as the action is mostly restricted to that of the cerebral variety; however if you are more interested in language than plot, and you enjoy authors who use language to delve beneath the outer layers to the inner person in order to examine not just what happens, but the consequences of those events, and beyond, then this might be just what you are looking for. A rather stylish read.

4 Stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best novel I have read this year., 30 April 2013
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This review is from: The Infatuations (Hardcover)
This book is clever, absorbing and beautifully written. It is also wonderfully crafted - a mature writer at his best.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Infatuations, 23 Mar 2013
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This review is from: The Infatuations (Kindle Edition)
3.5 stars from me.

This novel is written is this very recognisable unique style of Javier Marias which you either like or cannot stand for its long deviations from the plot and internal monologues. I liked it very much in his prior work and still enjoyed in this novel. The plot is almost archetypical which i thought it was interesting as well. But i do not think he developed in this novel any new ideas or themes which he had not touched in his prior work. Also i think his interpretation of the evil and the good in the human nature in the context of this novel was either too narrow or at least quite depressing.

IMHO it is much weaker than the prior trilogy by the author "Your Face Tomorrow", but it is difficult to overshadow that work.

I have to specially mention absolutely terrific English translation by M. de la Costa. I cannot judge about the original but the richness of the English language in the novel is overwhelming.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Please read all the reviews...., 30 Jun 2013
By 
Jill Meyer (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Infatuations (Hardcover)
Normally I begin writing a review knowing how many stars I'm going to give the book. With this book, Javier Marias' "The Infatuations", I'm beginning by writing the review and then determining the number of stars. This is a book that has already received reviews on both Amazon/US and Amazon/UK ranging from one to five stars, and in general, all the reviewers have thoroughly justified their star ranking. I hope to do the same.

I think "The Infatuations" might be another book like Dutch writer Herman Koch's "The Dinner", published earlier this year. Like "The Dinner", a great deal of Marias' novel takes place in restaurants and cafes. There's a lot of talking, a lot of emotional speculation, and a somewhat unreliable narrator. OR, is the unreliable narrator simply receiving unbelievable information and passing it along to the reader? Certainly parts of the plot are either silly or unbelievable, and sometimes, both. But, you as a reader have to separate what the narrator - a Madrid book editor named Maria Dolz - is hearing and what she's passing on to you, This is often difficult as much of the book is written in long, windy, stream-of-thought style.

The Jewish sage Hillel was once asked to describe the meaning of the Torah, while standing on one foot. He said, "Do not do unto others what you would not like done to you. And the rest is commentary". So it is with Javier Marias book. His entire book could have been written in 50 pages, but the rest is commentary. Along with frequent references to Honore Balzak, and Macbeth, Javier Marias (and his translator, Margaret Jull Costa) drill into the reader's mind about the permanence of death, while also treating a murder plot as casual and planned as "if it works, fine, if it doesn't, fine..."

The main characters in the book are presented - or present themselves - in an almost casual way. Maria Dolz sees a married couple - Miguel and Luisa - sharing breakfast before their work days begin in the same cafe she eats in. They're a seemingly adoring couple and Maria seems to almost fall in love with them as a couple. She later finds out the husband was killed in a murderous rage by a "street person". Maria befriends the grieving widow - and she IS grieving - and spends an evening at the widow, Luisa's, home. There she meets some friends of Luisa and falls in love/lust with Miquel's best friend, who is comforting the widow.

But what is the truth of the seemingly at-random street attack on Miguel? And what leads up to it and what is the result of the murder on the survivors' lives? This is where Maria as a somewhat unreliable narrator comes into play. This is where the novel fails; where plots and excuses and lies and rationale for the murder are convoluted and not believable, and MARIA'S REACTIONS ARE NOT BELIEVABLE.

After rereading what I wrote above, I'm going to chicken-out and give "The Infatuations" a three. Three star reviews from me are neither negative or positive (I wish Amazon felt the same, but they'll put this review in as a negative). I can neither recommend or not-recommend this book to readers, but can only urge potential readers to read ALL the reviews and make a decision. This is one book that will garner a lot of attention in the press and, it should.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Love, Death and Balzac, 15 Aug 2014
By 
J. Evans (Jersey, Channel Islands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Infatuations (Paperback)
Javier Marías is a profoundly unique writer. Despite this he is frequently and deliberately derivative. His literature is a synthesis of Literature as a whole. The Infatuations is a remarkable novel because of the ambiguities it exposes and the understanding it demands from the reader. Reviewers who dismiss the 'unlikeable' characters dismiss the eternal January that is human nature. Two faces, two million motives. Well worth reading and smouldering over, cocktail in hand.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No, no, no, no, no, 2 Aug 2013
By 
Paul Turner - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Infatuations (Hardcover)
Lovely dustjacket, glowing review on the dustjacket, a lovely holiday read, I thought. But the just an endless, ridiculous twittering of detail that exasperates. A variation on that dead kind of writing that avoids full stops or paragraphs, this just buzzes manically round inside the characters' heads in a claustrophobic, introverted, relentless way for as long as I could bare to read - about a third of the way through. One for the charity shop? No. Another poor soul might, like me, part with money for it. One for the bin. Sceptical? Don't say that you weren't warned! This is as far from enjoyable writing as it is possible to get. Wearisome. And, after all that, it enshrines a story that is just plain silly. I wish I could cite some redeeming feature, but my disappointment was complete. I kept hoping that the painful, hypnotic monotony would blossom like a butterfly, but it was never going to happen. So, sorry... No!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 14 July 2014
This review is from: The Infatuations (Paperback)
great
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very different, 12 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Infatuations (Kindle Edition)
Very unusual story. v interesting. Not the usual murder/mystery type novel. some people may find the construction and dialogue off-putting, but worth sticking with
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The Infatuations
The Infatuations by Javier Marķas (Hardcover - 7 Mar 2013)
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