Louis, a wretchedly unhappy multi-millionaire, all but personifies evil. Toward the end of his life, seeking to uncover the cause of his unhappiness, he commits to paper his whole bitter story: his indulgent but affection-starved childhood; his first love; the trivial misunderstanding that festered until it poisoned their entire married life and the lives of their children; the old miser's struggle to disinherit his family; and finally, the powerful climax, with divine grace vying to the very end to pierce the evil encrusting Louis' soul.
(P)1996 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"A modern masterpiece." (St. Louis Star-Times)
"Mauriac develops a character from the inside out....The listener is able to move into Louis's mind, to feel and understand his motivation." (Library Journal)
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"those nasty rich men"
i am always amazed when i read what this book is about, since the main character always seems to me like the only half decent person in the book. it is mostly about religious hypocrisy, how religion is fitted into chaotic lives in neat little pockets of piety. it is also about pride, misunderstanding, family relations being allowed to sour with no attempt at retrieving what has been lost. but it is also full of excitement and little cliff hangers as this man tries to decide what to do with his fortune.
the writing is superb, the man could write and deserved the nobel prize he won. the reader is also excellent.
altogether it was a trip into another world, the inner workings of a french landowning family. i had read it before, many years ago, and was curious to see if my reaction would be the same. it was. a good investment of my money as i will listen to it again and again through the years.
Geoffrey Howard he also does audio books under the name Ralph Cosham) does a superb job of narrating this book. He is able to communicate emotion without being overly sentimental. I would also recommend his reading of Beau Geste.
The book is excellent. It sounds unappealing, I must admit - almost the entire work consists of the reminiscences of a spiteful rich lawyer who knows he will soon be dead. However it is quite fascinating to see how his life developed and why he has ended up so miserable despite being so successful. It is a wonderful warning to not spend one's short life wrapped up in petty resentments and jealousies.
Well written. Excellent story. Wonderful narration. I highly recommend French novelist Francois Mauriac's book too you.
"Suspenseful Character Study"
"Viper's Tangle" is an "prison escape" story of sorts--only in this case the prison is the human heart. Louis, the dying anti-hero of the piece, is cut off from love by a lifetime of disappointment and resentment. Can he find his way to freedom before it's too late? The plot keeps you guessing, and the narrator's understated delivery never gets in the way of the action.
This is an entangling, fascinating story--unpredictable and moving.
Howard is great! Clear diction; nice pauses and just the right amount of emotion.
"a diatribe on selfishness....."
the negativity that filled the first four hours of this tale were not compensated for by the last 30 minutes or so where the reader is left to wonder, "did this evil man convert in the end?"
A man awaits death and begins to write a letter to his wife. He finds himself alienated from her and, subsequently, his children, all of whom he thinks hate him. He feels loved by none and that people only attach themselves to him for his fortune.
His letter serves as a journey through his life and help him penetrate his own heart as he hurtles towards something that was in him all along.
His heart is a tangle of viperes, but will he escape?
I didn't like this book at first. However, it truly is a masterpiece. The narration is superb.
"Too late the hero"
I was lead to this book via a consideration of the recent death of Antonio Tabucchi who cited Mauriac as a great influence. It is possible to see why, but having completed the novel I feel that Tabucchi was the more satisfying read.
That said, there are some really thoughtful insights here and religious meditations that really had me thinking. So much gloom and doom, misogyny and misanthropy is balanced by a religious revelation in the later sections which is then underlain by a final questioning. It is in essence a work of religious Existentialism - if there can be such a thing - delivered through the distanced narrator and the tricks of the modernist. A good, but not a great read - and like the curate’s egg in totality I felt.
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