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The Character of Rain: A Novel by [Nothomb, Amelie]
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The Character of Rain: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Length: 144 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


"Ingenious...With great delicacy, Nothomb updates the age-old divide between East and West in this delectable little book." --O, The Oprah Magazine

"Elegantly written...Nothomb demonstrates a shrewd understanding of the intricate ways Japanese relationships are made and spoiled." --The New York Times Book Review

"A polished little satire." --The Wall Street Journal


"'French literary lioness Nothomb imagines the inner life of her first two years of childhood, richly depicting this wondrous secret universe.' Elle; 'Potently distills from the state of infancy the intensity of beginnings, the precariousness, the trailed clouds of glory.' New York Times"

Product Details

  • File Size: 241 KB
  • Print Length: 144 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0312286007
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Reprint edition (April 1, 2007)
  • Publication Date: April 1, 2007
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FA5QHM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #272,239 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Maren Robinson on April 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
"In the beginning was nothing, and this nothing had neither form not substance -it was nothing other than what it was." I read the opening sentence of Amélie Nothomb's, The Character of Rain (Métaphysique des Tubes), and was hooked. I was not disappointed. Using a Japanese belief that children are gods until age 3, at which time they fall and become human Nothomb constructs a brilliant study of infancy. Deeply autobiographical, like all her work, and deeply philosophical, like all her work, what amazed me most was how completely she captured or imagined the self-preoccupation that is early childhood. Any child will believe it is the center of the universe (and why not an infant must be watched and waited on), and yet the same child will experience "the fall," the recognition that he or she is not a god, is not the center of the universe. Nothomb's ability to recognize this essential problem of being a child and tease out of her own experience the joys and pains of existence in a way that is as imminently and entertainingly readable as it is philosophical is where her genius lies. I've never read anything like it.
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Format: Hardcover
In the beginning before there is an Amélie, God exists as a tube eating, breathing, and excreting. However, the creators are a bit unhappy that this baby behaves more like a vegetable so these parents nickname the tube "la Plante". However, two years later la Plante abruptly moves and cries. Then the Tube's Belgium grandma arrives with the most devastating poison known in the universe, white chocolate. The Tube tastes the sweetness and a new conscience has metamorphosed. Life in the tube has turned quite sweetly though the awakening of Amelie makes her realize that paradise will be lost.
This unusual autobiographical tale first is told in the third person until the pivotal moment in history, the infamous chocolate incident, when the plot is written as a first person narrative. Not everyone will want to read this metaphysical story, but those who do will find a clever, witty, and intelligent tale that even makes the earliest of days come across realistically. Except for the title, fans will appreciate Amelie Nothomb's work that does not miss a beat in the translation from the original French MÉTAPHYSIQUE DES TUBES.
Harriet Klausner
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By John on November 26, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was not a very enjoyable read. The book starts off throwing around some tangential (at best) Western philosophy when it is trying to introduce us to a child who supposedly adores Japan. The narration moves way too quickly -- until the turning point of the story, I suppose: the exchange between the protagonist's two nannies that marks her 'fall from grace'. This scene, though important, might have wielded a smaller hammer in relation to the rest of the hurried text.
I was expecting to learn something about childhood (think: A High Wind in Jamaica). Unfortunately, Nothomb gets childhood (and parenthood, for that matter) so wrong that it is hard to get anything from the novel. The protagonist goes from mute to fluent speaker literally in a moment, learns to read -- the Bible, no less -- by age 2 (without any help by or even knowledge of any adults), and contemplates (well, sort of commits) suicide at 3. And she has nearly photographic memory of these first three years.
The parents in the novel are implausible: they are unconcerned that their daughter (whom they blithely call 'The Plant') is mute and unresponsive. I'm pretty sure the author is not a parent, since her portrayal of parents and children is so off-base.
In a book as short as this one, every scene should be important, carefully crafted and fitting to the narrative; none of this is found in TCOR.
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Format: Paperback
I have to believe that it was the publisher, and not the translator, who took the wonderful (and easily translatable)title of the French edition and turned it into something that sounds like the title of a police procedural (set in Seattle starring Andy Garcia, that you would avoid if you were to stumble past it on HBO), rather than the original and beautiful thing it is.

This is one of my favorite books. No summary will do it justice.
I went back to the re-read the French edition (currently known in America as "the freedom edition") and found that the important chapter about the character of rain appears two thirds of the way through the book and it is NOT central. The discussion of tubes at the beginning and end of the book (as related to the godlike infant/narrator and to her pet koi) are the meat of the story.
This is a pet peeve of mine (or more correctly, a black beast [bete noire] of mine). Why the prejudgement among American publishers that their readers will react violently against philosophy? Thank god they didn't spot the Kierkegaardian echoes in her "Stupeur et Tremblements" or they would have found something different than "Fear and Trembling" for the American edition. It's not just here and with Scholastic's change of the Philospher's Stone to the Sorcerer's Stone either; there is a general dumbing down of titles when they cross the Atlantic.
This wonderful book deserves its real title.
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