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The Chateau Paperback – 28 Dec 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (28 Dec. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860468144
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860468148
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 941,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Delicious and dead-on... All the embarrassments and gratifications of European travel are preserved in the amber of Maxwell's much pondered, seemingly casual prose." (New Yorker)

"As the voices of Austen, Turgenev and Tolstoy have survived, so will Maxwell's. There aren't many truly great writers among us. William Maxwell is one of them" (The Times)

"It's hard not to see it as a work of genius" (Times Literary Supplement)

"His gentle urbanity is a joy" (Sunday Telegraph)

"He combines educated intelligent and instinctive apprehension of human complexity in a way that would have earned Henry James' approval. William Maxwell is the very model of what a novelist should be" (Independent on Sunday)

Book Description

Maxwell is the unsung hero of American literature. This is about the charms and disenchantments of travel. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Despite the fact that very little of substance actually takes place- a well-heeled young American couple spend a few months in Europe in the aftermath of the War, some of it at the Chateau of the title-the descriptive quality of the writing and the endlessly complex characters of the French men and women with whom the Rhodes' become acquainted made me wish that I would never come to the end of this wonderful novel. For most of the book the reader is left wondering why these people behave as they do, until the "fly on the wall" style of the author finally makes things clear. My only slight reservation is that I feel that the two Americans, Harold and Barbara emerge as very bland, unexplained human beings in comparison with their French counterparts.
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Format: Paperback
William Maxwell is a name I had never heard of but I am glad I did. The book follows the adventures of an American couple over the course of a four month holiday in France (lucky devils). The twist is that France is just recovering from WW2 and there is an air of mystery about the place.

Maxwell has a metaphysical style which sometimes comes off, sometimes doesn't - it all depends on how deeply you go into the novel

The characters are neatly drawn, with monstrous landladys, ingenues and wild peasants - all in the third person (which is quite a literary achievement.)

There is something of Ital Calvino here, a touch of modernism but without its white walls and monochromes; also a touch of John Fowles. A sixties novel which looks into the past. A very fine thing indeed.
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By Susie B TOP 100 REVIEWER on 29 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
In this novel, first published in 1961, we follow a young American couple, Harold and Barbara Rhodes, on their travels in France three years after the end of World War II. Harold and Barbara arrive in Cherbourg, full of eager anticipation and keen to embrace whatever is waiting for them and, after a short time spent in Northern France, they travel down to Tourmaine in the Loire Valley to stay for two weeks in a chateau, which is run as a guest house by the owner, Madame Vienot. Before the end of their holiday, the couple plan to include a visit to Austria and Switzerland, followed by Italy, taking in Venice and Florence and then back through the Italian and French Riviera to Paris before returning home to the States (Phew!) Harold and Barbara are friendly and polite, but they are also unworldly and inexperienced people, who although try hard to mingle with the French and cope with the language, do not find their stay at the chateau very socially comfortable. They mistake the French aloofness for coldness and feel rebuffed when the family and other guests at the chateau do not respond to their warmth and eagerness to please. And throughout the rest of the story, the reader is taken along as an observer to the Rhodes' travels and experiences, sympathizing with them when they feel out of their social and linguistic depth at the chateau and in Paris, and watching them as they experience a more enjoyable time on the Riviera. And as we read on we also become witnesses to Harold and Barbara's unwitting lack of understanding towards a nation that is struggling to rebuild itself after the occupation of the German forces.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Maxwell is as good as John Williams, and every one of his books deserves the resurgence that Stoner has had. The Chateau is an ideal case in point - a delicate, understated novel, beautifully and simply written. On the surface it tells of the post-war Francophilic wanderings of a slightly naive, gauche young American couple, whose have only the best of intentions, however it is also, quietly about European histories, personal and collective. Each character has a story, related sensitively and lovingly over the narrative as a whole. It's a gorgeous, unshowy book full of real heart. It is completely sincere in a way that is not earnest, and the focus it places on its characters has the tone of an old family member looking nostalgically at sepia photos. I can't recommend this enough: the story wanders, like Harold and Barbara, slowly through the landscape of their tourism and history. They are a charming couple, perfect tour guides, in this charming novel.

William Maxwell is one of the five or so greatest writers in the English language in the 20th century. His writing has care, poise, love, delicacy, compassion, and a deep understanding of humans and their motives. This, his longest novel, is second only among his work to his shortest (So Long, See You Tomorrow), as the greatest thing he wrote. It really is special; a novel, and writer, for people who enjoy quiet, beautiful writing.
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Format: Paperback
Why hadn't I heard of William Maxwell before now? 'The Chateau' is a seriously good book. I sent for it after Salley Vickers recommended it in The Independent. Maxwell, an editor of the New Yorker magazine, wrote several apparently quite varied books, though this is the only one of his I've read. It is about a childless American couple who spend several months in France just after the end of World War II. For anyone who has read Irene Nemirovsky's 'Suite Francaise' this is a very good follow-on.

The first part of the novel was somewhat resistable, seeming disconcertingly as if the author was merely re-using notes he had taken during a visit of his own. But the couple are actually nice - rare in a novel - and also touchingly vulnerable. And gradually the novel thickens, with characters and places, into mental cinema, totally gripping. The ending is odd, and oddly unsatisfactory. But the people and the places are still in my head, a long time afterwards.
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