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The Suitors Paperback – February 26, 2013
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“I loved Cécile David-Weill’s ‘Suitors,’ a charming comedy of manners set at a country estate in the South of France, apparently one of the few places in the world where anyone still has enough manners to make a comedy about.” —Andrew Solomon, New York Times Book Review
“Cécile David-Weill’s delightful novel of manners is a witty mix of wisdom and tongue-in-cheek humor touched with a decadent zest of Frenchiness. Irrésistible!” —Tatiana de Rosnay, author of The House I Loved, A Secret Kept, and Sarah’s Key
"If you've ever wondered what Downton Abbey would be like if it were set in the South of France during our current century, then pick up this smart novel de charme immediately...The intimate, fascinating detail with which Cécile David-Weill describes this society—complete with seating charts and chauffer pick-up schedules—is what elevates this book from a mere romp through old-money families of France into an intelligent, engaging study of a society that seems as if it should be extinct by now." —Oprah.com
"The Suitors sets out to be a farce and a frolic, but throughout there is an undertone of nostalgia and wistfulness for a disappearing way of life." —Wall Street Journal
"Deceptively charming and delightful, this novel by the French American David-Weill (Crush) portrays class issues and changing mores with the kind of intelligent taste that would make the Ettinguers proud." —Library Journal
“Combining a sociologist’s eye for class nuances with wit as dry and sparkling as the best Champagne, Cécile David-Weill has drawn a meticulously observed, wickedly funny portrait of the 0.001%. Her protagonist Laure, a self-described ‘freemason of refinement,’ is determined to find a suitable savior for her family’s legendarily, but discreetly, luxurious house in the South of France; to that end, she tirelessly decodes the signs of old-school elegance and nouveau riche striving that abound (and clash, to hilarious effect) among the house’s revolving cast of art collectors and film stars, social climbers and grandes dames, sadistic nannies and billionaire yogis. The result is a sharply perceptive and addictively amusing insider’s look at today’s superrich—a direct heir to Edith Wharton’s and Marcel Proust’s portrayals of an earlier Gilded Age, and destined for a classic status all its own.” —Caroline Weber, the author of Queen of Fashion: What Marie-Antoinette Wore to the Revolution
"An entertaining and beautifully observed glimpse into the rarefied lives of the French one percent. Imagine Downton Abbey transported to a chic house in modern day south of France." —Ivana Lowell, author of Why Not Say What Happened?
“A deliciously intimate look at the hijinks of the tres, tres rich on the Cote d’Azur. I laughed on every page, but don’t be fooled. The Suitors is above all a meditation on the inevitability of change.” —Patricia Volk, author of Stuffed and Shocked: My Mother, Schiaparelli, and Me.
"Laure is disarming and witty, and serves as a charming guide who takes us inside the world of the very rich—and the no longer so." —The Daily Beast
“Cécile David-Weill gives readers an insider’s tour of the French upper classes frolicking in a grand villa on the Cote d’Azur where life is meals and proper etiquette is serious business. Beneath the hilarious portrayal of intellectuals, film stars, and the aristocratic elite is the poignant story of two sisters caught in the nostalgic longing for their childhood summers and a precious way of life. Like those sweet French macaroon cookies, this is a novel you will delight in until the very last page.” —Katharine Davis, author of Capturing Paris
"[A] delightful rendering of L’Agapanthe, an old French family’s summer estate on Cap d’Antibes dedicated to the art of gracious living...David-Weill draws readers in as graciously as any good hostess, but because of her personal background—she comes from an old-monied French family who vacation on Cap d’Antibes—readers may wonder if this is a roman à clef and will likely try to play a who’s who guessing game." —Publishers Weekly
"It’s filled with the all the comforts (and the ridiculousness) of traditions and habits old and new. Sumptuous descriptions of the estate and their elaborate meals make for a charming read in more ways than one." —Linus's Blanket
"The design of Suitors is delightful, with menus, schedules of arrivals of guests, seating arrangements, and other special pages that make is a lovely thing to hold in your hand." —Mary's Library
“The idea of this ‘behind closed doors’ among the ultra-rich is excellent and merciless in its charms…we can imagine seeing the film, and the realization is brilliant: it’s Vanity Fair meets Rules of the Game. You laugh a lot, you try to guess who is who, and you learn useful things.” —Christophe Ono-dit-Biot, Le Point
"Like a French Nancy Mitford, Cecil David-Weill (daughter of a former chairman of Lazard Freres) is at her most interesting when she’s parsing the manners of the super-rich, explaining why offering a Jet Ski as a hostess gift is simply never done."—Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Like Downton Abbey but French, this confection of a novel is light as a macaron and just as sweet and nostalgic. " —Elle
About the Author
Linda Coverdale has translated more than sixty books. A Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, she won the 2004 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the 2006 Scott Moncrieff Prize, and the 1997 and 2008 French-American Foundation Translation Prize. She was a finalist for the 2008 French-American Foundation Translation Prize for Life Laid Bare (Other Press, 2007).
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Top Customer Reviews
Life is formal at "the good house,"a Mediterranean villa built around a loggia..." overlooking the sea, "the complete opposite of a house with a view.... The garden creates "harmony between indoors and outdoors," linking "the house to the sea...a theater...where the lawn is the stage, the rooms are the box seats, and the terrace forms the orchestra pit...."
But there is a twist as the parents "revealed their vulnerable side." They have aged with the two daughters now much sought-after women. Oh, the twist. L'Agapanthe is to be put up for sale, not because the parents need the money, but... Well, that is for you, the potential reader, to discover. And, like me, you may see that this is somewhat the French version of "Downton Abbey" albeit a contemporary version.
The narrator is a psychotherapist and her sister an interpreter for--yes!--the President of the Republic. The narrator is divorced and has a young son.
Will the sisters need to find themselves sugardaddies, a couple of Mr.Read more ›
There a few classy lines and some decent commentary, but not enough to hold this book together. So disappointing!
At the end, the house of the sisters' cherished childhood is a trove of wonderful memories but possibly an impediment to breaking loose to their own futures. The last sentence of the novel defines the quest of Laure, the narrator: "In that moment, I wondered if it would be there in his wake that I would find my place." She's moving on.
If people come to this thinking that they will read an updated Great Gatsby or Jane Austen, they'll be intrigued and amused, but disappointed by the lack of plot. The characters have a problem. Why aren't they focusing on it more? Why does it never get resolved? Moreover, this is far from Jane Austen. This is Edith Wharton.
If people come to this thinking that they will read a French twist on a sex and shopping novel, they'll be disappointed by the lack of descriptions of sex and material objects, and far many more descriptions of conversations, characters, and philosophical musings. Sex and shopping novels never typically have a real ending to them, so that will not disappoint them much. But the vivid descriptions that those readers are used to reading are here, certainly, but without the focus they usually expect.
A review I read linked it to Downton Abbey, and they were right. Impecunious French noblewomen searching a husband to replenish their family fortunes. Like the strong books of that end of the Great Houses era, this book is long on diverting descriptions of interactions and subtle class hints and random diversions into the character's psyche.
Like a French novel or film, there is a plot, but not one with a tidy Anglophone resolution. A problem starts the action. No one does anything much about the problem. What they do instead is muse, reflect, have conversations about the problem. You leave having gotten a glimpse into someone's internal struggles, but you have no idea what they have in mind for themselves next. This is not an Anglophone mindset, to say the least.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a waste of time. The narrator is a judgmental, arrogant, materialistic member of the upper crust. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Catherine B. Mann
I bought this some time back for my wife after reading a favorable review in the WSJ, and she very much enjoyed it (as did her friend). Read morePublished 14 months ago by Karl Erich Martell
Reading this was a waste of my time. The characters were not interesting so nothing caught my interest. Are women really this shallow?Published 20 months ago by Donna O.
Almost nothing but descriptions of a house and meals, presumably those of the author's own immensely wealthy family.
The comparisons to Jane Austen are preposterous. Read more
I BOUGHT THESE BOOKS FOR MY AUNT,GERALDINE MINK, WHO IS AN AVID ACROSTICS FAN. SHE TELLS ME SHE LOVES THEM!!!!!Published on January 19, 2014 by GERALDINE MINK
The translation is awkward and stilted, and it reads like an dull memoir. Even with a goal of getting a (very weak) glimpse into the lives of a privileged set on the Côte d'Azur, I... Read morePublished on January 14, 2014 by Dr. Mom
Ever try a restaurant that's received great reviews only to discover the food is bland and the service ho-hum? Read morePublished on November 14, 2013 by Stacia
How much of your life - or, for that matter, your own personality - is defined by longstanding traditions? Read morePublished on September 29, 2013 by Christina Hamlett