The Catalans

( 1 )

Overview

This novel is a powerful successor to Testimonies, Patrick O'Brian's first novel written for adults. It is set in that corner of France that became O'Brian's adopted home, where the long, dark wall of the Pyrenees runs headlong to meet the Mediterranean. Alain Roig returns to Saint-Féliu after years in the East and finds his family in crisis. His dour, middle-aged cousin Xavier, the mayor and most powerful citizen of the town, has fallen in love and plans to marry Madeleine, the young daughter of the local ...

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The Catalans

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Overview

This novel is a powerful successor to Testimonies, Patrick O'Brian's first novel written for adults. It is set in that corner of France that became O'Brian's adopted home, where the long, dark wall of the Pyrenees runs headlong to meet the Mediterranean. Alain Roig returns to Saint-Féliu after years in the East and finds his family in crisis. His dour, middle-aged cousin Xavier, the mayor and most powerful citizen of the town, has fallen in love and plans to marry Madeleine, the young daughter of the local grocer. The Roig family property is threatened by this union, and Madeleine's relatives object on different grounds.

Xavier is a tragic figure, damned by what he perceives as a lack of feeling; Madeleine is to be his salvation. Unfortunately she does not return his affection, and, as the feasts and harvest festivals of Saint-Féliu are played out, she finds herself falling in love with Alain.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Best known for his monumental series of Aubrey/Maturin naval adventures, the late O'Brian began his writing career during the early 1950s with several closely observed character studies of ordinary people. His second novel, The Catalans-also published as The Frozen Flame-is set in a remote corner of southern France, where Alain Roig returns to his home after working for many years in East Asia. He finds his family in turmoil because his middle-aged cousin intends to marry a much younger woman who complicates matters by falling in love with Alain. Simon Vance's well-modulated narration makes this a delightful book for audiences. Recommended for libraries with mature listeners who appreciate close family studies.
—R. Kent Rasmussen

Library Journal
Nautical specialist O'Brian stays on land in this novel, set in France, that follows the romantic entanglements disrupting a family. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393051100
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/17/2005
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick O'Brian

Patrick O'Brian wrote many novels, including the extraordinarily popular Aubrey/Maturin series about the Royal Navy in the time of Nelson. He died in 2000.

Biography

In addition to the twenty volumes of the highly-respected Aubrey/Maturin series, Patrick O'Brian's many novels include Testimonies, The Golden Ocean, and The Unknown Shore. O'Brian has also written acclaimed biographies of Pablo Picasso and Sir Joseph Banks and has translated many works from the French, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Lacouture's biography of Charles de Gaulle. Born in 1914, he passed away in January 2000.

Patrick O'Brian was one of the great authors of the twentieth century, whose novels were often compared by critics to the work of Jane Austen and even Homer. A writer of breathtaking erudition, Mr. O'Brian evoked in complete and dazzling detail an entire world -- that of the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. In addition to formidable scholarship, Mr. O'Brian brought to his work keen psychological insights, a sharp wit, and fast-paced, heart-stopping action.

In a cover story in The New York Times Book Review published on January 6, 1991, nine years to the day before Mr. O'Brian's death, Richard Snow wrote that Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin naval adventure novels are "the best historical novels ever written. On every page Mr. O'Brian reminds us with subtle artistry of the most important of all historical lessons: that times change but people don't, that the griefs and follies and victories of the men and women who were here before us are in fact the maps of our own lives." In a Washington Post article published August 2, 1992, Ken Ringle wrote, "The Aubrey/Maturin series far beyond any episodic chronicle, ebbs and flows with the timeless tide of character and the human heart."

W.W. Norton & Company began publishing Patrick O'Brian's books in 1990. The previous year, Norton's editor-in-chief, Starling Lawrence, had read The Reverse of the Medal on a trans-Atlantic flight, fallen hard for the series, and had become convinced that Norton ought to publish Mr. O'Brian's works in the U.S. Norton decided to publish each new book in hardcover as it was completed and to bring out the earlier books in the series in paperback until they had caught up. The first season, Norton published The Letter of Marque (# 12) in hardcover and Master and Commander (# 1) and Post Captain (# 2) in paperback. Most recently, Norton published Blue at the Mizzen (# 20) in hardcover in 1999 and in paperback in 2000. At present, Norton has all of the books in the series available in uniform hardcover and paperback editions.

In addition to the twenty books in the Aubrey/Maturin series, Norton has published a short story collection (The Rendezvous and Other Stories) and three of Mr. O'Brian's other novels: Testimonies, The Golden Ocean, and The Unknown Shore. O'Brian has also written acclaimed biographies of Pablo Picasso and Sir Joseph Banks and has translated many works from the French, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Lacouture's biography of Charles de Gaulle. In April of 2000, Norton published Caesar: The Life Story of a Panda-Leopard, his very first book, begun when he was just twelve, and Hussein: An Entertainment, written when he was about twenty years old. Both of these books had long been out of print.

Starting in the early 1990s, Mr. O'Brian achieved, at long last, the critical and popular recognition that was his due. All of his new books published since 1993 have appeared on national bestseller charts, and his books have sold well over three million copies in the U.S. alone.

Mr. O'Brian once said, "Obviously, I have lived very much out of the world: I know little of present-day Dublin or London or Paris, even less of post-modernity, post-structuralism, hard rock or rap, and I cannot write with much conviction about the contemporary scene." [Patrick O'Brian: Critical Essays and a Bibliography, edited by Arthur Cunningham]. In fact, Mr. O'Brian often seemed to have walked out of another era, and in his interactions with his publisher, he displayed a level of courtesy and civility rarely seen in our times.

Author biography courtesy of W.W. Norton & Company.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Richard Patrick Russ
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 12, 1914
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chalfont St. Peter, Buckinghamshire
    1. Date of Death:
      January 2, 2000
    2. Place of Death:
      Dublin, Ireland

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2006

    O'Brian at His Best

    O'Brian narrates the story of the Roig family and associates with all of the mastery expected of such an esteemed writer. O'Brian manages to encompass not only an elegant narration, but interweaves intricate descriptions of the region and places in which the story takes place. The added touch of literary detail only enhances the quality of the piece. The finely woven story truly shines as a work of magnificence and proves not to be one easily forgotten.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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