This is a very short novel, but its brevity doesn’t account for its excellence. The story is about Fanny de Malrive, a New Yorker married to a French marquis. She is trapped in an unhappy marriage and constricted by the “sacred traditions” of the Parisian aristocracy. Fanny falls in love with John Durham, a friend from her youth. She hopes to marry him and return to America, but she fears that her Catholic husband will refuse a divorce and that he may claim custody of their son, the heir to the family title. Durham meets Madame de Treymes, Fanny’s sister-in-law, who is herself guilty of adultery, and he seeks her help in getting the family to consent a divorce. The novel depicts the insurmountable differences between the American and French society and customs, regarding morality, tradition and appearances.
I was hooked by the premise of this book, and I’d like to try it sometime 😉
A poor but well connected young newlyweds plan to live at least for a year in honeymoon at expenses of their wealthy friends, while the husband works in his first book hoping to make a living as a writer. What was out of their plan were the stumbling blocks that came along with it, like some unwanted meetings in their vacations and keeping secrets from each other. This last bit was heartbreaking for the reader (or at least for me) because those secrets were kept with good means, in order to not worry their other half, but were noticeable by them as an uncomfortable and estranged situation. The things seemed to reach a break point with no return, and the spouses parted in different ways.
Shh, I won’t tell how it ends!
I liked the developing of the story, but I felt a bit disappointed with the end, it felt meager.
English title: The Triumph of the Night and other tales
This book, as it says in the title, is a compilation of different stories. Some of those stories could be catalogued as “ghost stories”, but most of them are more related to the upper classes like the ones she described in The Age of Innocence. These tales were, surely, my favorite. I’ve always enjoyed the irony in her character’s dialogues, and, in some cases, in the way she presents those characters. Reminds me sometimes of Jane Austen’s style, although much more cynical.
However, some of these stories left me with a feeling of incompletion, more like a loose chapter in a larger story, just a glimpse of it, leaving me wanting for more.