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.