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The Chateau Paperback – November 7, 1995

21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Delicious and dead-on... All the embarrassments and gratifications of European travel are preserved in the amber of Maxwell's much pondered, seemingly casual prose." New Yorker "As the voices of Austen, Turgenev and Tolstoy have survived, so will Maxwell's. There aren't many truly great writers among us. William Maxwell is one of them" The Times "It's hard not to see it as a work of genius" Times Literary Supplement "His gentle urbanity is a joy" Sunday Telegraph "He combines educated intelligent and instinctive apprehension of human complexity in a way that would have earned Henry James' approval. William Maxwell is the very model of what a novelist should be" Independent on Sunday --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

William Maxwell was born in Illinois in 1908. He was the author of a distinguished body of work: six novels, three short story collections, an autobiographical memoir and a collection of literary essays and reviews. A New Yorker editor for forty years, he helped to shape the prose and careers of John Updike, John Cheever, John O'Hara and Eudora Welty. So Long, See You Tomorrow won the American Book Award, and he received the PEN/Malamud Award. He died in New York in 2000. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage International ed edition (November 7, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067976156X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679761563
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #846,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 17, 1998
Format: Paperback
The Chateau is a wonderful "travelogue" for people who love well written novels. The story begins with the interesting premise of vacationing in France just after the war. The novel shows the tensions of the "haves" and "have nots" between financially war torn France and the booming post war U.S. The Chateau serves to remind us of the graciousness of everyday life and the small luxuries afforded by simply being American. All of the American insecurities of traveling abroad crop up throughout the novel: (e.g. the gaucheness of being an American, the lack of a long history or the U.S's place in Western Culture). No one character is entirely lovable or wretched. That is precisely what makes it such a thought provoking novel. It is perfect for those who travel or have been to France on an extended trip. Enjoy the book and recommend it to a friend. The story can stand on its own but the writing remains the feast.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Digital Chopsticks on December 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is not about a Chateau. It's not about France or about tourism. It's not travel writing and it certainly isn't "A Year in Provence". It is about being far from home. It's about being in a fascinating world you don't understand, and how you might interpret all that is in it. It's about how being in that world affects relationships with those you know well, and those you meet along the way. If you've been in unfamiliar territory in your life, you'll recognize yourself in Mazwell's detailed mirror. Man, this is a good book. If yor really want to see the beauty and the agony of being on foreign ground, read The Chateau.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By helen verlander on October 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
On review, I think this is an evocative and highly skilful rendering of La Belle France three years after the Second World War. Novels like this show something which is quite ineffable in any other form. Nothing much happens for all the life is in the minutiae of the everyday and the France that is captured here and which of course exists no longer is seen through the uncomprehending eyes of the young American couple who insensitively travel about a France where people are still suffering the physical deprivations of the War, still talking incessantly of Nazi soldiers. Despite being Francophiles in theory at least, this inseparable couple, are quite out of their cultural (and linguistic) depth in the French society they encounter, notably at the Chateau and afterwards in Paris. They are rather painful in their efforts not to be overcharged because they are Americans and preoccupied with their own comforts. They are quite put out that the chatelaine of the chateau has not provided them with a double bed as requested and when they request water for bathing it is tepid by the time they get to it. They cannot guess at the heroic efforts of their hostess to keep the chateau at all. The wonder is that they are taken under the wing of some of the guests of the Chateau. Much is made of one guest, Eugene's subsequent froideur towards them. There is no great mystery. His is a personality that blows hot and cold but this exercises the American pair a great deal. Their coupleness is also irritating but here I am expressing a personal prejudice. Published in the early sixties, The Chateau is an interesting read for anyone who has ever travelled to France. I just wouldn't wish Harold and his wife on anyone and certainly not the French.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cary Watson on August 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
There are literary novels, and then there are Literary Novels. The Chateau is very definitely the latter. It follows, very consciously, the literary path trod by Henry James with his portraits of middle-class Americans encountering the charms and pitfalls of Europe. In this case, we follow Harold and Barbara Rhodes of New York as they visit France in 1948. In James' novels The American and The Portrait of a Lady, the American characters travel to Europe and experience the expected culture clashes, but also become involved in dramatic plots revolving around love and marriage.

Maxwell does not make the Rhodes' jump through any dramatic hoops, choosing instead to show them coping with the difficulties of new social relationships. The Rhodes' arrive in a France that is still just recovering from the war. They begin their four month trip with an extended stay at a small chateau in the Loire Valley. The chateau, owned by Mlle. Vienot, is run as a guesthouse, and Harold and Barbara soon find themselves in a series of new friendships and awkward social entanglements with Vienot's guests and relatives. The action later moves to the south of France, and then Paris, but the Rhodes' remain involved with the people they first met at the chateau.

Maxwell takes an acute look at the social anxieties of the Rhodes, as well as their emotional and psychological reactions to France, Paris, and the pleasures and pains of travel itself. On this level the novel works quite well as a unique insight into the way travel (as opposed to tourism) can be both psychologically upsetting and liberating.
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