As the urbane and accomplished spy Harry Stroller, Peachy has access to a world he never knew existed - a world of sumptuous living, world-weary men, and available women. But when one of those women, Annie, a young, beautiful, and wary courtesan, turns out to be more than she seems, Peachy's life is transformed forever.
©2007 Gene Wilder; (P)2007 Books on Tape
"Touching." (Publishers Weekly)
"Gene Wilder has written a remarkable period piece. It's an elegantly woven story of intrigue, danger, sex, and comedy, but for me the big surprise is that it's a truly moving and eloquent love story." (Mel Brooks)
The author is an actor and writer, but most people think of him as an actor, and an actor that plays in the not so serious roles. Do not expect that here, for this is a very serious book indeed, and a very good book.
In the first half of the last century writers like Hemingway and the Parisian Ex-pat's brought to life a style of writing that dwelt in the heart, and the essence of what motivates and shapes the decisions of the characters and their moral choices. Words like honor and ethics and the romantic meant something more than they mean today. This book so perfectly captures that style and the very nature of the era that it almost makes me wonder if the author's career as an actor was a terrible and tragic mistake, because had he spent that time writing I have no doubt that he would stand shoulder to shoulder with Hemingway and Faulkner in the minds of those who read for the love of reading.
I cried and I laughed and I cringed, I giggled and I frowned, and I was quickly thrust into the story with very little sense of transition. I believed.
The author paints a background that though it is sparse in detail so richly builds a picture in the mind that after putting the book away I am forced to wonder how he did that? In the second listen, I realized that somehow my mind created details that are only hinted at, and that is the mark of the true art in writing.
I cannot really do justice to this book in a mere 2000 characters, so I will not try. What I will do instead is say this: You must listen to this book, becuase to not experience it would be one more thing to add to the list of regrets one carries through life.
I first read about this novel in the pages of the late (as in deceased, unfortunately) American Heritage magazine. I was intrigued enough by the review and by Wilder's comments that I thought I would give it a try. I am so glad I did. In a beautifully crafted, tight narrative, Wilder weaves a tale that is spellbinding. I admit to being a little skeptical (Willy Wonka has written a novel?)--but I'm glad I took chance. You will too. The only disappointment was the brevity of the novel-- I just didn't want it to end!!
Without question, this was one of the most enjoyable audio books I've ever listened to.
Although the book is short, the complex characters and plot make it beautifully poignant. The ending to this love story, which in different hands would have been tragic, is inspiring and deeply satisfying. I highly recommend it, and now plan to read all of Gene Wilder's novels. They couldn't be anything but masterful.
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