Overview

Written in 1928 by French biographer and novelist Andre Maurois, Climates became a best seller in France and all over Europe. The first 100,000 copies printed of its Russian translation sold out the day they appeared in Moscow bookstores. This magnificently written novel about a double conjugal failure is imbued with subtle yet profound psychological insights of a caliber that arguably rivals Tolstoy's. Here Phillipe Marcenat, an erudite yet conventional industrialist from central France, falls madly in love with...
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Climates

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Overview

Written in 1928 by French biographer and novelist Andre Maurois, Climates became a best seller in France and all over Europe. The first 100,000 copies printed of its Russian translation sold out the day they appeared in Moscow bookstores. This magnificently written novel about a double conjugal failure is imbued with subtle yet profound psychological insights of a caliber that arguably rivals Tolstoy's. Here Phillipe Marcenat, an erudite yet conventional industrialist from central France, falls madly in love with and marries the beautiful but unreliable Odile despite his family's disapproval. Soon, Phillipe's possessiveness and jealousy drive her away. Brokenhearted, Phillipe then marries the devoted and sincere Isabelle and promptly inflicts on his new wife the very same woes he endured at the hands of Odile. But Isabelle's integrity and determination to save her marriage adds yet another dimension to this extraordinary work on the dynamics and vicissitudes of love.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This lucid new translation of a novel originally published in 1928 probes the timeless complications, betrayals, and fascinations wrought by love. Coming from a wealthy family that owns a profitable paper mill, young Philippe Marcenat lives a comfortable if empty life in central France, in Limousin, haunted by the notion of a romantic ideal gleaned from a favorite childhood book. While convalescing from bronchitis in Italy, he meets Odile Malet, a flirtatious French beauty from a lower-class family, and is instantly smitten. Despite his family’s objections, the two are quickly married. But as Philippe falls into a morass of jealousy and disillusionment, his overbearing behavior drives Odile into the arms of another man. The mismatched couple’s inevitable tragedy unfolds in the book’s first half, while the latter half, told from the perspective of Philippe’s second wife, Isabelle de Cheverny, details her own undaunted efforts to earn the love and respect of her dismissive and unfaithful husband, whose behavior has ironically come to mirror that of Odile. With Sarah Bakewell’s (How to Live) introduction providing historical context and insight into the autobiographical nature of Maurois’s material, this new edition of Climates marks a valuable reintroduction to a neglected master. (Dec.)
From the Publisher
"Stripped of its period shading, this is a sad and timeless tale of women on pedestals and the pain of loving not wisely, but too well."—Kirkus Review

"This lucid new translation of a novel originally published in 1928 probes the timeless complications, betrayals, and fascinations wrought by love...With Sarah Bakewell’s (How to Live) introduction providing historical context and insight into the autobiographical nature of Maurois’s material, this new edition of Climates marks a valuable reintroduction to a neglected master.—Publishers Weekly

"The book’s...aphoristic philosophy is timeless."—New York Times

"Climates' prose affects a restrained elegance...which retains its period's aura...At the same time, its gentle rhythm allows Maurois' many insights to pop throughout like tiny bombs."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Climates...is orderly yet unsettling. It breathes an air that is profoundly civilized, but there is something violent and shattering about it, too. 'Even when it’s mutual, love is terrible,' says Philippe. It is terrible simply to be human—and there can be no subject more interesting to write about, or more beautiful, than that."—The New Yorker

"Climates is a delicious romantic bonbon that yanks the heartstrings."—Wall Street Journal

"A beautiful and heartbreaking novel of two marriages and the fractures endured by both...In this new translation, its penetrating examination of the psychology of love is made vivid for a new generation."—Granta

"An irresistible, micro-Proustian novel about a jealous husband and the woman who tries to save him."—Paris Review

"This new translation by Adriana Hunter fully captures the elegance and frivolity of its era. It artfully preserves timeless questions about the nature of love, too. Marcenat['s]...quest for the right “climate” for love shows the approach to be just as problematic nearly a century later."—The Daily Beast

"The stark truth of human nature paired with the romantic notion of love makes this story a whirlwind of happiness and tragedy."—Examiner.com

Kirkus Reviews
In a new translation of the 20th-century French classic, wealthy Philippe Marcenat makes two attempts to find the perfect partner and fails both times. Distinguished French writer Maurois (1885-1967) drew partly on personal experience in his 1928 novel devoted to the balance of affection within a marriage. Philippe has high romantic ideals and believes he has found their personification in his first love, Odile, a dreamy young woman with exquisite taste and looks whom he meets while on holiday in Florence in 1909. But once married, the scales slowly fall from the devoted husband's eyes as he encounters Odile's stubbornness on the subject of male friends. Besotted and jealous, Philippe stands helplessly by as events spiral out of control. The second part of Philippe's sentimental education is narrated by wife number two, Isabelle, with whom the relationship is a mirror image of the first marriage. Now it is Isabelle who loves most fondly and Philippe who is bored by the intensity of affection. Once again, tragedy can't be avoided. Stripped of its period shading, this is a sad and timeless tale of women on pedestals and the pain of loving not wisely, but too well.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590515396
  • Publisher: Other Press, LLC
  • Publication date: 12/4/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,186,076
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

André Maurois (1885–1967), born Emile Herzog, was a writer of considerable versatility who achieved success as a biographer, historian, and novelist. In 1938 he was elected to the Académie française. He is perhaps most famous for his biographical studies of Shelley, Disraeli, Byron, Proust, and Victor Hugo. Climats (Climates) was originally published in 1928.

Adriana Hunter studied French and Drama at the University of London. She has translated more than fifty books including Enough About Love by Hervé Le Tellier (Other Press). She won the 2011 Scott Moncrieff Prize, and her work has been shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize twice. She lives in Norfolk, England.
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Read an Excerpt

You must have been surprised when I left so suddenly. I apologize for that but do not regret it. I cannot tell whether you too can hear the hurricane of internal music stirring inside me over the last few days like Tristan da Cunha’s towering flames. Oh! I would so like to succumb to the tempest that, only the day before yesterday, in the forest, urged me to touch your white dress. But I am afraid of love, Isabelle, and of myself. I do not know what Renée or anyone else may have told you about my life. You and I have sometimes talked of it; I have not told you the truth. That is the charm of new acquaintances: the hope that, in their eyes and by denying the truth, we can transform a past that we wish had been happier. Our friendship has gone beyond the point of overly flattering confidences. Men surrender their souls, as women do their bodies, in successive and carefully defended stages. One after the other, I have thrown my most secret troops into battle. My true memories, corralled in their enclave, will soon give themselves up and come out into the open.
I am a long way from you now, in the very room in which I slept as a child. On the wall are the shelves laden with books that my mother has been keeping for more than twenty years “for her eldest grandson.” Will I have sons? That wide red spine stained with ink is my old Greek dictionary, those gold bindings, my prizes. I wish I could tell you everything, Isabelle, from the sensitive little boy to the cynical adolescent, and on to the unhappy, wounded man. I wish I could tell you everything in complete innocence, exactitude, and humility. Perhaps, if I manage to finish writing this, I will not have the courage to show it to you. Never mind. It is still worthwhile, if only for my own sake, to assess what my life has been.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 25, 2013

    The stark truth of human nature paired with the romantic notion

    The stark truth of human nature paired with the romantic notion love makes this story a whirlwind of happiness and tragedy. Philippe loves Odile, but because he places his expectations and standards too high, he loses her in the way he feared most. The opposite happens with Isabelle. He becomes the elusive one and she is the spouse that obediently follows her heart.

    The reader is privy to the inner workings of each character’s mind, allowing them an intimate relationship with Philippe, Isabelle, and even Odile. Everyone has some experience with a lover’s ghost, whether it’s yours or your partner’s. You will come out of this story with a certain amount of melancholy and joy. It will be both confusing and appropriate.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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