We move from Paris to the seaside town of Balbec, from ritualised social performances to midsummer spontaneity, and from Gilberte to her successor Albertine.
In Balbec, the narrator is befriended by the painter Elstir who introduces him both to the craft of painting and to the mysterious 'little band' of girls. An artistic education is thus intricately interwoven with a journey of sexual self-discovery.
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Proust writes marvelous stuff, but his interminable sentences can make his work difficult to read. Now, John Rowe to the rescue: he reads so sensitively, it's like listening to one's own thoughts. I was so glad to find he's started another volume of Proust's masterwork, and look forward eagerly to the second installment, and hopefully more to come. Insomniacs, take note: with Marcel Proust/James Rowe on your iPod, you may be able to jettison the Lunesta. I mean this in a good way (and I think that Proust, who wrote at night in that cork-lined room, would have approved): the narrative is absorbing, complex, seductive, and nonlinear, perfect for bedtime (or the wee hours of the night), as it hardly matters where you leave off or pick it up again.
having now completed the second volume of proust's amazing seven volume work, i am more convinced than ever that the ONLY voice for proust's narrator is john rowe. more, please.
Rowe's performance feels less arch than Neville's. I like them both but preferred Rowe, this time around. I only wish Rowe had finished the series. Or, if he has, I wish Audible would make the rest of it available.
Rowe's reading is brilliant. In fact, I've found the whole work more accessible and seductive as a listen than I did as a hard-copy read, thanks in large measure to Rowe's sensitive and often illuminating performance. I can't wait for the rest of the volumes to be available.
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