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on 14 May 2010
This book is an immensely enjoyable read, written in clear, non-academic prose. The author's enthusiasm for Proust is clear from the outset and catching, too. If you've tackled Proust before, or if you intend to, this is a book you will need. In the first section Patrick Alexander elegantly summarises the plot of each volume, providing plenty of quotations. Next follows a guide to the (many) characters, and the book concludes with biographical and historical material to place 'A la recherche' in context. Just as Harry Blamires' guide is indispensable when tackling 'Ulysses', and Brian Boyd's 'Nabokov's Pale Fire' for understanding the complexities and hidden pleasures of that book, so too does this reader's guide make a roaring lion of a read seem more like an approachable pussy cat.
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on 22 March 2011
This book is a very helpful guide to Proust. However, it is based upon an outdated edition. I am using the same translation as the author, but his edition arranges the volumes differently so that his page references are impossible to follow.
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Such a byword for pretentiousness that Monty Python had a 'Summarise Proust' skit - very funny it is too - his great novel certainly warrants a guide since even its admirers,( I am one), admit that it is not exactly an easy read. This is an indispensable little guide to it, signposting plot and themes and characters such that you will not likely get lost in the deliberately labyrinthine prose. Yes, Proust's chef d'oeuvre has its longueurs, asthma is being recapitulated for one thing, but it is a quite brilliant novel and the more people are encouraged to try it and helped to enjoy it, the better. Just to experience the last book is to learn - I did in 1984 - just a little about Time and its depredations; to enjoy the social set pieces is to experience one of the great comedians of manners in any language, as well to appreciate a moral critic as exacting as Chekhov. It may also help you to see how funny Proust can be; as well as one of the most profound writers on Love - for what it is worth I think him quite the best on this, if ,erm, chastening ("Dr Freud, the screens!"). A great help in reading a very great book, although I would not supplement it with de Botton whom I find facile; try the short essay by Frank Kermode is his 'Modern Essays' instead, it's a gem. With this and that, you are off.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 26 October 2010
I have had the two volume set of 'Remembrance Of Things Past' by C K Scott Moncrieff for a few years and not got round to reading it. I also bought the first of the updated six volume set of 'In Search Of Lost Time: Swann's Way' with the intention of trying again. Unfortunately I have kept putting it off, even though I really did want to read it. I think I was put off by the cast of characters in the 3000+ pages and the fear that it would be a too serious a tome (like 'The Count Of Monte Cristo' - apologies to those that have read it).

It has a short introduction to the full work with an additional quite detailed introduction to each volume, plus a list of characters and a small biography of each of the major characters that feature. There is also a small biography of Marcel Proust at the end.

This book by Patrick Alexander has really helped, showing that 'In Search Of Lost Time' is a very interesting and humorous novel. If I had not read this book I know I would have never attempted Proust, fearing it would be too dry and serious. I therefore heartily recommend it to anyone in the same situation.

I would also recommend How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton, which is quite humorous too and a good introduction to Proust's private life.
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on 9 December 2014
I have attempted to read Proust' magnum opus on a few occasions but haven't got very far. As Patrick Alexander explains with an imaginative analogy, it is is rather like scaling a high wall to a beautiful garden and inside are delights to be found.

This reader is a an excellent insight into the work. It explains and elucidates the work with all the characters described.

It will certainly help with the reading the work and give added incentives to tackle it.
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on 7 August 2013
I first read bits of Proust as a student. In middle age I picked it up again and am hooked. This book is a fantastic aid to reading, understanding and appreciating À la recherche du temps perdu. I am so glad I bought it. Thank you.
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on 9 February 2013
An excellent book which is helping considerably my 2nd attempt at the great work. I had started making my own notes to keep things reasonably clear but realised I needed something which came at the task from several directions. This is it!
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on 13 February 2015
Some aspects of Proust explained for a newcomer to his work; like myself.
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on 15 November 2014
Very helpful and sensible.
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on 26 September 2015
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