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Publisher's Summary

In the coming-of-age story, we follow a young Italian nobleman, Fabrizio Valserra, Marchesino del Dongo, on many adventures, including his experiences at the Battle of Waterloo, and romantic intrigues.

©1997 Margaret Mauldon (P)2013 Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Grant
  • Arlington, VA, United States
  • 03-23-14

Amazing novel finally available on audio!

One of my favorite books, this title has not been available in audio in English until very recently. The work is hard to define -- part adventure, part a shameless exercise in romanticism, and part a realistic portrait of court politics that feels surprisingly contemporary. The text presupposes a basic knowledge of European history and politics of the period, and without such knowledge I found bits of the text confusing, especially when zipping by at audio speed. (In particular, replay chapter 1 before proceeding to start on a firm footing.) But the general flow of events becomes clear over time, and missing a few political nuances does not detract from a very enjoyable experience. Beautifully read by a skilled narrater.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Patricia
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 04-25-14

A classic you don't want to miss

This is another classic I never got around to reading and finally Audiobooks made it possible for me to finally get to it. I thought it started a little slow but oh how it developed. It was hard to stop my walks and turn off my iPod. I walked extra just to keep listening. It is a French author writing about an Italian hero and I enjoyed the comments about the two different cultures. The beautiful Italian names will ring in my head forever. Don't miss it.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Another version of Candide

Any additional comments?

This is a remarkable enjoyable epic of a young man in search of love encountering the ways of the world which have not changed since this book was written. It reminded me of Voltaire's Candide but far more sophisticated in nuance and breadth and soul. It's comparison of the French and Italian personas is very interesting.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Marianne
  • PETERSHAM, MASSACHUSETTS, United States
  • 10-17-15

Napoleonic fiction

Where does The Charterhouse of Parma rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

very high

Who was your favorite character and why?

Mosca, a complicated character

What does Edoardo Ballerini bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Depth, feeling, and wonderful pronunciation.
If only all your readers of books with European words could pronounce them as well as he does.
I look for books that he reads.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

all of it

Any additional comments?

Get Ballerini to do more readings.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A grand historical drama with excellent narration

What more can be said about this incredible feast of romance, religion, revolution, and realism? It speaks of love, war, death... practically all of human life. It is a lesson in history and politics. Surely there is something for everyone.

Yes, there are a few less than masterful moments, a few incongruous elements that might have been changed to give the story more continuity, but not enough to detract from the overall effect of this sweeping story.

I love reading anything about France or Italy, so this novel is a double treasure for its settings and descriptions.

If you haven't read this novel, you're in for a treat with Eduardo Ballerini's delicious narration. And if you're rereading, you may once again agree with Henry James, who wrote that THE CHARTERHOUSE OF PARMA is one of "the dozen finest novels we possess."

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Surprisingly modern

I read Red and Black many years ago, and I loved it then, but for some reason, I was ignorant of this beautiful and stirring novel.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Emrys
  • Alfred, NY, United States
  • 10-03-17

Disappointing-neither serious nor all that funny

Stendhal's 'The Red and the Black' is one of my favorite novels. I found this one disappointing. It isn't as amusing. It gets bogged down at times in tedious court intrigue (the narrator himself admits this in one place!). And the way it ends tells me that Stendhal didn't really know where he was going with it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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O wretched soul, what sweetness it was!


'O wretched soul, what sweetness it was!
How we burned at the moment when I saw
those eyes that I might never see again.'
-----
Lines from Petrarch, on handkerchief given secretly as a gift in novel's forbidden love affair


The 1839 The Charterhouse of Parma represented a movement away and forward from the romanticism of Stendhal's time, this was one of the earliest examples of realism in a way that was considered revolutionary then; Balzac considered it the most important novel of his time. Though some elements of the romantic emotionalism linger, the novel turns to realism in more fully exploring human nature and psychology of its primary characters.

Stendhal, like the protagonist Fabrice del Dongo, served with Napoleon's army in the 1812 campaign into Russia. After Napoleon's fall, Stendhal lived six years in Italy, a country he fell in love with, before returning to his native France.

Upon return from serving with Napoleon's army, del Dongo returns to the intrigue and politics of the court of Parma and fends off repeated advances from his relatively young aunt by marriage, 15 years his senior. He falls head over heels for the young maiden Clelia and they begin a platonic affair...until after she is married (and insists that they have sex in complete darkness so she would not be fully aware that she was committing an adulterous sin).

Once he deems the affair hopeless, that he can never be with his love, he turns to the cloth, escaping the cruel world into the charterhouse, or monastery.

I enjoyed it as a unique departure in my reading, appreciating the blend of the realism with some of the dramatically emotional pull of hopeless love.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Well read but dull

I enjoyed The Red and The Black and was shocked to find this one dull and rambling, despite a clear and sympathetic narration by Edoardo Ballerini. It's more of a sketch for a novel than a finished work. The story skips from dramatic scene to tedious summary at the drop of a hat, sometimes (seemingly) within the same paragraph. It skips over months at a time and mentions in passing that some life-changing event or other occurred along the way. Then without prelude or setting, it leaps into extended dialogue; then back into summary. I couldn't get a handle on it, and I never cared much for the foolish and selfish hero Fabrice.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr Henry
  • 07-15-17

Bonkers and crazy

Laughed at this many, many times. What a life the hero has in this huge book that only took Stendhal 50-odd days to write. Overlook silly plot twists and general silliness and you'll uncover a work of comic and satirical genius.