Love And War Converge In This Lush, Epic Story Of A Young Woman S Struggle With Life And Love During And After The Second Empire , An Era That Was Absinthe Soaked, Fueled By Railway Money And Prostitution, And Transformed By Cataclysmic Social Upheaval Eug Nie R Born In France S Foie Gras Country, Follows The Man She Loves To Paris, But Soon Finds Herself Marooned, Pregnant, And Penniless She Gives Birth To A Daughter She Is Forced To Abandon And Spends The Next Ten Years Fighting To Get Her Back An Outcast, Eug Nie Takes To The Streets, Navigating Her Way Up From Ruin And Charting The Treacherous Waters Of Sexual Commerce Along The Way She Falls In Love With An Artist, A Woman, And A Revolutionary The Capital, The Gleaming Center Of Art And Civilization In Europe, Is Enjoying Its Final Years Of Wanton Prosperity Before Galloping Headlong Into The Franco Prussian War For Eug Nie It Is A Conflicted Landscape Grisly, Evocative, And Addictive As The Gates Of The City Close Against The Advancing Army, Eug Nie Must Make A Decision Between Past And Present Between The People She Loves Most The Unruly Passions Of Eug Nie R Is A Testament To The Power Of Love, Friendship, And The Art Of Self Creation I m not quite sure what to say about this book There were chapters that I loved, chapters that I skimmed, chapters that I hated, and chapters that made no sense In fact, much of the book made no sense to me It is beautifully written as to prose style It certainly creates the period in which it takes place Its plot is buried like a dog s bone in a closely planted garden difficult to spot and even difficult to dig up without harming the plants around it I read to the end to find out what happens to our heroine but that was not to be The ending is as enigmatic as Eugenie herself and her life I m not sure that I would recommend it and I think that I m glad I read it Give me some time to digest it I didn t know what to expect with this book The bare bones summary is Eugenie is abandoned by her lover in Paris Once she realizes this, she does what she has to to survive She soon realizes she s pregnant and eventually has to give the baby up, determined to get her back again Along the road of survival, she meets many interesting and revolutionary people, friends, lovers, etc.The book was told in the first person, which doesn t always work It almost didn t work here, but once the story got going, everything evened out Eugenie is not always a reliable narrator, and she admits to embellishing here and there I loved some of the people she encounters My favorite was Jolie, who was like a cockroach, nothing could kill her She was a survivor, a strong woman Actually most of the women in this book were especially strong, had revolutionary ideas.The book is told during the 1860s, a time that practically suffocated women I could feel the frustration of Eugenie and her friends My favorite quote was said by Eugenie herself Men will never understand a woman s follies, no matter how often we repeat them before your eyes All you can do is accuse, and rewrite the story to please yourself.Amen, sister.The Unruly Passions of Eugenie R was long winded and a chunkster There were times where there were pages where nothing happened However, at the end, it s worth it The ending is not a concrete, set in stone ending There are still many possibilities for Eugenie, but whatever the future holds for her, I ve not doubt she survives it. Carole Desanti colors the pages of this drawn out French period novel with mountains of purple majesty The dreaded purple prose, flowery and full of poetic nostalgia, much like Hemingway, works to romanticise the time period, which is muddied by sin and war The premise of the book has all the makings, but suffocates any tension with gruelingly prolonged descriptions Instead of building the scene, I felt this approach drained any footing gained by forcing the reader into a poetic, meandering tirade that often went off course These jaunts through the floaty prose dulled the plot and consistently made me lose interest Early on, the dialogue is disjointed and it is difficult to keep track of the speaking characters The dialogue is the weakest part of the book and I was disappointed by the lack of significance and emotion especially, given the amount of laborious work that was spent on descriptions In the later half of the novel, much attention is directed towards the detailing and history of the war The reader is taken on a history lesson while intermittently being brought back to the characters and plot Most likely praise and consideration for this book will be given based on the author s credentials in the publishing world, but perhaps she should stick to the other side of the desk It s a bit of a snooze fest, unless you re really into purple pose and beginner style dialogue, I wouldn t recommend it This has been done before and it has been done much better by other authors. This was not an easy book to read The style is almost stream of conciousness and at times very difficult to follow Much of the time it goes on and on about observances that have seemingly little to do with the actual plot line.We often hear about the ladies and fine gentlemen of history, but little of the people who had to struggle just to eat or stay alive Eugenie s story holds great promise even though it s sad and somewhat tragic Unfortunately though, for me, this book was just frustrating to read with little pay off in the end.After struggling through the entire book I found that I never really connected to any of the characters The last chapter was even difficult to follow than the rest of it However, after 405 pages of rambling prose, I was happy to finally finish it even though the ending was not what I hoped for at all.If you re looking for a challenge this is the book for you Transporting Writerly, lush, decadent, gritty, dreamy and real with silk, art and artists, corsets, hunger, absinthe, rag pickers, syphilis, petticoats, chocolate, tripe, rodents, war, siege, lovers, friends, family, police, soldiers, politics, madames, barricades, survival of the heart and of the self One of the best books I ve read this yearand there have been many I hope Carole DeSanti produces novels Take me back to 19th century France Or somewhere, sometime Please. The story was convoluted by the over use of flowery prose, which leaves the reader feeling distracted and bored I was so focused on the descriptions and language that I found myself having to go back and re read chapters or passages to make sure I had a full grasp of what was going on The prose was elegant and beautiful but it just took up too much of the story Overall this story was just meah for me and that is heartbreaking because the cover is beautiful and stunning in a way that the novel just wasn t The ingredients are right for a great story but something about this one just didn t deliver for me See my full review here In this grand repas of a novel, the author, and therefore her readers, inhabits the heart and mind of a woman who, like most, wants romantic love, wants a child, and wants the freedom to live a productive life But unlike most, Eugenie R savors and endures the chaotic place and times that are her lot with absolute subtlety and insight Seldom have I read a book this intelligent and artful I read it at bedtime, and soon I was turning back the covers an hour earlier than usual and turning out the light two or three hours later than my need for rest demanded Despite the sleep deprivation I suffered at the hands of this author, I found that she could not be sleep read I had to fully engage with the prose, which suited me I don t wish to be spoon fed as a reader, but rather for my own intelligence to be called into action I was inside the mind of the protagonist, and when we are inside a mind, all that is obvious to that mind must be left unsaid This may present some difficulties for some readers, but for the author to do otherwise would break the interiority and the subjective spell Although Eugenie leads a punishing and difficult life, I couldn t wait each evening to reenter the complete and exotic Parisian period her creator evoked I needed to see Eugenie reunited with Berthe, the daughter she gave up as a baby in one of the most heart rending scenes of maternal loss and sacrifice that I ve ever read But despite the losses and privations she endured, Eugenie does not see herself as a victim She sees, rather, the divide experienced by many women, whether of her era or our own, between the self that observed the world but could not act the other that moved heedlessly, lacking a sense of the world s consequence, and the machinery to stave it off It is not until full maturity that a woman begins to look back and have that first shuddering sensation of her own particular folly Eugenie s folly turns on falling in love with the first man who promises her transcendence an eternally repeating plot, both in fiction and life, but this author renews it by way of immediacy and the originality of her insights and prose, immersing us in one of the most richly drawn worlds we are ever likely to enter, even if the majority of those we meet there are poor.Along the way, I had my feminist consciousness expanded During this period in French history women lacking husbands or rich families had little means of survival other than prostitution, which was regulated and taxed by the state The practice was institutionalized, in brief, and few women who entered that institution ever left it unless by way of disease or old age, at which point they were cast out from the maisons de tolerance, or brothels I also learned French history reading this book than I might otherwise have learned in my lifetime Swept up by DeSanti s deft language and narration, I didn t even notice that pill going down. I have started this book and put it down several times, and this time it s being put down for good Literary fiction and I just don t get along, and I m going to make a great effort never to touch it again Too many pretty words and long descriptions signifying nothing YMMV As far as I read, the book begins around 1860 in Paris Eugenie R was a goose girl who came to Paris I really don t understand the circumstances of how she got there , falls on bad times and ends up in a house of prostitution Yawn I gave up about 20% through and I m not going back there again Life is too short, and I ve got too many books I want to read I ll throw out a couple of quotes as an example so other readers can decide if this is the book for them or not She was once part of earth, the moon But earth turned too fast for the heaviness inside her A bulge formed and earth began to list and wobble His scent of earth of linseed oil and iron Two hundred stairsteps into the sky I shed my shattered self, breathed in moments, one to the next My present cure, the coiling, bone melting green his arms now around my body, ever warmer in a room full of windows, seven winding stories above the street A jolt, and our movement ceased the scent of late roses swelling into the closed warmth of the carriage The night air smelled like mown hay, flowers, and rushing water all mingled together The light shifted, a shaft of wintry light against light dove gray, pink, bluish Nearby an old couple dozed in two chairs, pooled in the circle of pale sun Just not my cuppa tea Note I received an ARC from Vine yes, I still have that copy , but the quotes are taken from a finished copy obtained via library loan kindle copies being easier to quote from. I listened to this on an MP3CD, read by the incomparable Kate Reading It was a joy to listen to her beautiful Parisian French accent made me want to pull out my old school French texts and brush up The story is lush but over long, I think It s an eye opening look at the few, difficult options open to women in 19th century Paris, and a woman s eye view of the Franco Prussian War, about which I knew absolutely nothing Interesting, but a VERY leisurely read.At novel s end I concluded that I enjoyed it but still wished for a good editor to streamline things a bit And I wish the ending had been clearer will she EVER meet and get to know the daughter she had to give up, I wonder I m so glad I didn t live in Paris then.I WILL add that I am tickled by Goodreads With their backs to the reader list, featuring books with intriguing covers like this one that show figures turned away from the reader What a great display idea for a book store or a library Isn t it interesting how a good cover can pull you to a book you might not have picked up otherwise
Carole DeSanti is a longtime book editor and champion of new voices in fiction Her work has appeared in The New York Times and the Women s Review of Books.
- Kindle Edition
- 432 pages
- The Unruly Passions of Eugénie R.
- Carole DeSanti
- 06 February 2017 Carole DeSanti