The Comfort of Strangers [NOOK Book]

Overview

Colin and Mary are lovers on holiday in Italy, their relationship becoming increasingly problematic as they become increasingly alienated from one and other. They move from place to place in this foreign land but seemingly without aim or purpose and more, seemingly bored and without attachment.

Then they meet a man named Robert and his wife, Caroline, who is crippled. Colin and Mary seem happy for the diversion--happy to meet another couple ...
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The Comfort of Strangers

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Overview

Colin and Mary are lovers on holiday in Italy, their relationship becoming increasingly problematic as they become increasingly alienated from one and other. They move from place to place in this foreign land but seemingly without aim or purpose and more, seemingly bored and without attachment.

Then they meet a man named Robert and his wife, Caroline, who is crippled. Colin and Mary seem happy for the diversion--happy to meet another couple that takes the focus of off them (off of each other) for a while. Things become strange (and stranger yet; one could say horrific) when they attempt to leave: Robert and Caroline insist that they stay with them for a while longer.

While Mary and Colin indeed rediscover each other in ways during this time--an erotic attraction to each other that was below the surface--they also find that their relationship/friendship with Robert and Caroline takes turns that are likewise erotic and violent in nature. A pervasive dread runs through this novel, leading to the terrible climax that no reader could predict. Absolutely in the key of McEwan, without match in the genre, and a very worthwhile read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

First Love, Last Rites was McEwan's first published book and is a collection of short stories that in 1976 won the Somerset Maugham Award. A second volume of his work appeared in 1978. These stories--claustrophobic tales of childhood, deviant sexuality and disjointed family life--were remarkable for their formal experimentation and controlled narrative voice. McEwan's first novel, The Cement Garden (1978), is the story of four orphaned children living alone after the death of both parents. To avoid being taken into custody, they bury their mother in the cement of the basement and attempt to carry on life as normally as possible. Soon, an incestuous relationship develops between the two oldest children as they seek to emulate their parents roles. The Cement Garden was followed by The Comfort of Strangers (1981), set in Venice, a tale of fantasy, violence, and obsession. The Child in Time (1987) won the Whitbread Novel Award and marked a new confidence in McEwan's writing. The story revolves around the devastating effects of the loss of a child through child abduction. Readers may know McEwan's work through these and other books, or more recently through his novel, Atonement, which was made into a major motion picture.

ABOUT THE SERIES

Rosetta presents modern classics from groundbreaking author Ian McEwan, author of Atonement and First Love, Last Rites (among others) in a special collection that offers readers the full-range of McEwan's smart, savvy, and engaging prose.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940014114059
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks
  • Publication date: 2/11/2011
  • Series: Ian McEwan Series, #3
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 653,356
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

First Love, Last Rites was McEwan's first published book and is a collection of short stories that in 1976 won the Somerset Maugham Award. A second volume of his work appeared in 1978. These stories--claustrophobic tales of childhood, deviant sexuality and disjointed family life--were remarkable for their formal experimentation and controlled narrative voice. McEwan's first novel, The Cement Garden (1978), is the story of four orphaned children living alone after the death of both parents. To avoid being taken into custody, they bury their mother in the cement of the basement and attempt to carry on life as normally as possible. Soon, an incestuous relationship develops between the two oldest children as they seek to emulate their parents roles. The Cement Garden was followed by The Comfort of Strangers (1981), set in Venice, a tale of fantasy, violence, and obsession. The Child in Time (1987) won the Whitbread Novel Award and marked a new confidence in McEwan's writing. The story revolves around the devastating effects of the loss of a child through child abduction. Readers may know McEwan's work through these and other books, or more recently through his novel, Atonement, which was made into a major motion picture.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

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(2)

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(5)

3 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not as good as the reviews make it sound.

    I had high hopes for this book, but it did not reach my expectations. Luckily, it was short. I felt like the whole book was dull and there was only the anticipation of some sort climax. The climax came on the last two pages. I felt that McEwan himself must have became bored with writing this story and just wrapped it up in the end. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone, even die-hard McEwan fans. Enduring Love and Cement Garden are better than this. Saturday is pretty boring as well.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Death in Venice.

    An English couple (Mary and Colin) spend their holiday in a city that bears some resemblance with Venice, Italy. After a few days they meet an other couple (Robert and Caroline) who are Canadians but live in that town since several years. The name of that town is never mentioned but it's of no importance. Like "Death in Venice" by Thomas Mann - where the town is only the scene for the impossible love of a sick man for a boy - the city of Ian McEwan is the scene for a man and a woman trying to revive their love for each other. But above all it's the story of their troublesome relationship with the Canadian couple, a relationship that soon will change into a nightmare.

    During the nighttime, it's a gloomy city with dark and dirty gables, empty streets, no lights in the houses and every bar and restaurant seem to have vanished into thin air. Only one bar is open. The owner of the bar is Robert. It's an obscure place where unsavory men- captivated by the glittering lights of a jukebox- are listening to the music with stern faces. They listen to the same song over and over again while they hold the jukebox as if it were a life-buoy.

    The most intriguing character is Robert. One evening, while Mary and Colin are having a drink in his bar, Robert comes in. He's dressed in a black jacket and a white open shirt and the smell of cheap perfume lingers around him. He invites the English couple - who should be perfect strangers to him - for dinner in his house. While Caroline and Mary are in the kitchen, the men have a conversation about the parents of Robert. At a given moment Colin has to smile a little about something and David, without saying anything, punches Colin in the stomach. Then the conversation continues as if nothing happened. But you get the feeling that the novel might not have a happy ending. Caroline is Robert's wife. She's shy and tense. One gets the impression that she's under the complete control of Robert. You could even say that she seems to be the prisoner of her husband and although she's shy, she yearns for a good conversation as if talking to strangers would comfort her. Mary and Colin are stereotype lovers although they can have rather academic discussions for several hours. These conversations and the digressions by the writer are sometimes long-winded with the result that you become impatient. You want to know how the story unfolds.

    Published for the first time in 1981, 'The Comfort of Strangers' is not one of his best achievements ('Atonement', 'Amsterdam'). But you should read this short novel especially when you're a fan of Ian McEwan. I like this novel because you can taste the evil and you can smell the madness albeit for short moments.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2010

    Terrifying but really well-written!

    I feel weird saying that "I liked" this book because it was so disturbing. However, the writing was mesmerizing. His words pulled me in and I felt like that fly on the wall. I recommend this book only to those who are not depressed and/or have an anxiety disorder.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Ian McEwan ever twisted way of writing.

    I Always like McEwan and before this I have other of his novels but I must say that he in early years he always had this strange way of creeping one out. So the plot of this story starts with Maria and Colin who are away for holiday.they dive through the city, discussing in feminism and recapitulating who they meet. They are lovers without other thing than be loving each other and finding places to eat in the afternoons. Them they meet this man and his wife and all the sane in this story goes away. Now they must found the who to escape from this crazy couple that want to teach them a lesson that they'll never forget.-Would you do anything for her? Yes or No. -What do you want!? _ugh thats not a very good answer is't?- know would you do anything for her? - Yes...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2005

    Well-written but very disturbing

    I read this because I loved Atonement, but I found it very disturbing, It is actually about people who are very sick, and in the end I wished I hadn't read it. Even though it was well-written, I didn't really understand the point of the book. It was too dark for me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2004

    Disturbing

    I picked this one up because I have enjoyed this author's other works tremendously. Here he veers off into wierd territory. This story is about people who are sick, cruel, violent, etc. I could not finish this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2001

    No Comfort

    A quiet book that surprises with an end without comfort at all!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2001

    A thought provoking read on the nature of gender these days

    A book that invokes much thought. Disturbingly acurate in it's descriptions of the characters. While it is confusing at times, the confusion lends to the power of the book. The charecters themselfs are confused, so the reader is actually brought more fully into the world of the book. The confusion is what makes the end so rivating. A good read, but don't let the length fool you, it will cause many hours of thought once you are finished.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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