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Synopsis: The Princess of Cleves was published anonymously in 1678 and is considered to be one of the first European novels. Lafayette is thought to be the author. The setting is the court of Henry II. All of the characters except the heroine are historical figures. The events in the story are faithfully accurate to historical records

Me: This is one of the books on the 1001 Books to Read before you Die list. I lasted just 50% of the kindle version (free if you fancy a go yourself). I have been worried about reading the older books as the few I have read from the 17th century and older I’ve really not liked. This sadly continued the trend. Split into four quarters it tells the story of the Princess of Cleves and her romantic trysts. At least I think it does. The sentences last whole pages sometimes. It makes it difficult to follow and trying to catch a breath or natural pause in the story is impossible.

My other bug bear is the constant switching between characters names. There are so many it’s hard to keep track but the Princess herself is often called Princess but sometimes Madam but it’s not always clear we’re still on the same woman. The story is very much a stream of conciousness and switches between gossip about the Princess and her lovers to other people but again so fast you are halfway through a different tale before you realise it.

It’s basically 17th century gossip and fluff – an Elizabethan beach read. If you like that kind of thing you’ll love it. I sadly didn’t

Note: I’m picking the 1001 books at random rather starting at the beginning to keep it more interesting. Coming up I have Pippi Longstocking, the making of 2001 Space Odyssey, Watchmen graphic novel & Billy Liar….

 

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