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on 25 January 2015
The mix of ratings for this glorious novel are extraordinary. In my personal view, Marias is the best writer by far in Europe today, But...... no question that he's not for everyone. His earlier novels such as 'A heart so white' and 'All Souls' are more approachable. The Infatuations, a discourse on themes common to all of humanity.......love, loss, loneliness, bereavement, the finality of death, grief, and revenge are woven into an apparently initial simple romantic story about a street murder involving a man in the wrong place at the wrong time, a man in a marriage initially perceived to be supremely happy and content but to which there are twists and turns as the book proceeds. Marias's style involves a lot of pondering, lengthy sentences and a lot of repetition which those who enjoy his work will say is absolutely valid whilst those with short attention spans will call 'going on a bit'. At the risk of sounding condescending, it may be that as with the very greatest of wines, this book should not be read until those who explore it have themselves experienced life and some of those themes mentioned above which are Marias's target. 'The Infatuations' is certainly Marias's Chateau Petrus, Rothschild or Vega Sicilia. Even if you dont read it immediately, buy it for later.
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on 11 April 2014
This isn't a novel for a quick, easy read. It is a thoughtful and deeply thought-out book written in a style that demands attention but repays it 100-fold. I can well understand that some people are put off by Marias' rambling prose and others may want more action, but "The Infatuations" is a superb study in love, death, life and good and evil.

Marias owes a lot to Henry James and the technique of telling a story through an unreliable or troubled narrator: time and again as we read María Dolz's account of her casual encounter with Miguel and Luisa and its consequences, we realise that she has her own strange agenda and an unsettling point of view. We can't rely on her. The author has translated Joseph Conrad also and Marias' long paragraphs with overlong phrases linked by commas surely owe something to the Polish author's writing.

That said, I couldn't put this book down! The characters reveal their innermost thoughts and fears about life and death, about purpose and intent and indeed, love. Like Conrad, Marias throws the reader into confusion about right and wrong by deliberately misleading us or casting doubt upon the truthfulness of what people say.

For those who love good prose, this novel is a gem, although I did find the long sequences of commas sometimes wearing: perhaps in translation the occasional semi-colon and full stop would have worked better. The uncertain spelling of Miguel's surname - Desvern or Deverne - echoes the uncertainty which troubles the reader all the way through. It is no coincidence that Javier Marias gives his two main characters the names Javier and Maria: they are two aspects of the same person.

The outworking of the tale is skillfully controlled and with every new revelation fresh uncertainty and more tensions are brought into the mix. Right until the end we're left guessing not only what will happen, but also more importantly, why. As we become clearer about what has happened to Miguel, we actually become less clear about who, if anyone, is to blame. But this is no post-modern "blurring of the lines" and easy moral relativism: it finally presents us with a complex enigma and challenges us to be honest about our own motives and desires.

A powerful, troubling and deeply rewarding book.
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on 15 August 2014
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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on 14 April 2013
I bought this in advance of Javiar Marias' talk at the Oxford Literary Festival and was horrified for the woman beside me to elbow me whilst ruining the ending. But as luck would have it, she was a big fat liar and hadn't read it at all as evidenced by the narrative twist. Javiar Marias is literary fiction at its best. Unfortunately there are instances of long meandering sentences where the character must think for 10 pages before doing a single action. But this is fine too. I'd read other books by him and was especially impressed with this tale because it takes you in directions you can't imagine even though all of the characters have postulated at length on possible outcomes and causal factors. Great. Really great.
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on 4 July 2013
I found the first half rather tedious - the rumblings of the deceased's friends were particularly tedious - either he really was or something was getting lost in translation. I suspect it was the former. Once the plot begins to reveal then we are off to the races and the book takes off to become an interesting and well written read. Fond the reflections on death and relationships very revealing and deep.

I apologies to many for this high level review but I am writing it several months after finishing the book.
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on 20 June 2014
I very rarely give up on books but I could not get past page 52 of this tedious, irritating missive.
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on 12 June 2014
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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on 3 July 2014
A very clever writer if you like literature with a capital L thenyou would enjoy it .basically a murder plot a crime of passion and a love story but with a plot so different ,...like no other....very thought provoking.
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on 8 March 2017
I began to feel I was investing my precious time in a winding tale of very little consequence - didn't get it...
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on 6 March 2014
and a bit long winded but if you stick with it it is worth it in the end. A romantic novel
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