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The Most Beautiful Books in the World

Jun 21, Jacob rated it it was ok Shelves: short-fiction , in-translation , This book. I mean, the title was promising, and the woman on the cover seems to love the book she's reading, and Europa Editions seems to publish nice books seems to, at least--I haven't had much luck with them yet , so I thought, well, maybe Didn't work. Maybe my expectations were a bit too high, maybe I'm reading too many other things at the moment and I wasted my time on this when I could have been reading Doris Lessing or Gertrude Stein? It had better not be the last one. Save me, Louis Auchincloss!

The Most Beautiful Book in the World

Save me from these uninspiring stories! View all 6 comments. Apr 19, Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly rated it really liked it. The reviews here are on opposite extremes: from the stars extremely annoying, does absolutely nothing, etc. This is not a full-length novel but a collection of eight novellas or maybe eight short stories but longer than the usual, or eight novels much shorter than the usual.

So The reviews here are on opposite extremes: from the stars extremely annoying, does absolutely nothing, etc. So not tied up in a coherent whole, it may easily happen that the disgust one feels after the first of these novellas which I found very close to mediocrity "Wanda Winnipeg" could dictate the reader's mood in his reading of the remaining. Overall, I could pass judgement on it: simply narrated, straightforward, fast-paced, markedly plot-driven, bereft of any attempt towards sophistication or composition gimmickry.

That could very well be a criticism.

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But it is not. Except for "Wanda Winnipeg" I enjoyed each and every story like I was a small boy tasting one exotic candy after another. I expected stories and was given delightful ones, each with distinct flavor and often with unexpected twists and turns. The last two I found the best, both of them having to do with the book's cover: you see here "Odette Toulemonde" the 7th novella happily reading her favorite author's Balthazar Balsan's "Silence of the Plain" but of course that's not the title the book carries.

For a lot can be gained OR lost in translation. To illustrate, take a look at this poem: "This great toil: to go through things undone Plodding as if tied by foot and hand, Recalls the uncouth walking of the swan; Death, the loss of grip upon the shelf Whereon every day we used to stand, Mimes the anxious launching of himself On the floods where he is gently caught, Which, as if now blessedly at naught, Float aside beneath him, ring by ring; While he, infinitely sure and calm, Ever more of age and free of qualm, Deigns to fare upon them like a king.

And to die, which is letting go of the ground we stand on and cling to every day, is like the swan when he nervously lets himself down into the water, which receives him gaily and which flows joyfully under and after him, wave after wave, while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm, is pleased to be carried, each minute more fully grown, more like a king, composed, farther and farther on.

But no. Aside from the given possibility of the translation contributing negatively to this book, there is also a hint in one of the stories here which show that it may be indeed the case.

20 Of The Most Beautiful Books In The World

I found it in "Odette Toulemonde" itself, the paragraph which reads: "When the Filipino maid found him lying there lifeless, it was not too late. The emergency services managed to revive him and then, after a few days under observation, he was sent to a psychiatric hospital. Yet it is good if the dead can really come back to life. So happy Easter everyone.

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View all 3 comments. Shelves: life-journey-stories , not-your-typical-love-story , short-stories , france , stories-about-women , favorites , europa-editions. There are writers and there are storytellers. Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt is now on my list of storytellers. I loved this book so much that I didn't know how to put it into words. Easily one of my favorite books this year So I read some reviews -positive and negative- just to get some outside perspective. Here's what I came up with when I was done: First of all, this is a collection of stories about women, most of which are narrated by women.

Unlike another book that I read recently that was There are writers and there are storytellers. Unlike another book that I read recently that was narrated by a women but written by a male, Schmitt's prose and understanding of the female mind and its compassion is exemplary. The writing was simple, which was perfect to counter the complexities that the stories reflected.

They are stories about love, in all its forms, and how these different types of love are the driving forces of the beautiful creation that is woman. Excuse my sappy - but that's how you feel at the end of these stories. You can't help but love the women and appreciate them, despite their faults. I was inspired by this book. Immediately, once I finished, I wanted to reread it - if only to be sure that I could commit all of the stories to memory.

I have the worst memory ever so I have the great fortune of being able to rediscover all my favorite books new every time! How's that for a positive outlook! I wasn't taken aback by the simple writing as some reviewers have mentioned and it only served to inspire me to try to write some stories of my own.

So that's what I shall do. I can only hope that I can write something that is a fraction as inspiring as these stories. Oct 01, Erma Odrach rated it really liked it. The 8 stories, written in simple prose, are all stories about women - women dealing with heartbreak, love affairs, death, dementia. In 'The Intruder', an elderly journalist, Odile, living alone in an apartment, keeps seeing an old lady. She calls out to her, "What are you doing in my house? How did you get in? Was Odile's mind playing tricks on her?

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It's a very sad story. In 'The Most Beautiful Book in the World', a group of female political prisoners in Stalin's Gulag share paper and one pencil and set out to write to their daughters. When done, the plan is to stitch it together and get it "smuggled out at the first opportunity. These well-formed stories are at times sad, at times optimistic, and at times quirky. Almost all are from the perspective of a woman, but written by a man. I liked the book and the cover a lot. View 2 comments.

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  • Mar 31, Rowena rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites , short-stories. I could hardly put this book down; what a great storyteller Schmitt is!

    bestdoccocounsu.tk All the stories featured women who were dealing with different things in their lives loves, death, dementia, disappointments, etc. Jan 28, Shannon Giraffe Days rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction , short-stories , , cover-love. Wanda Winnipeg is a beautiful, rich, demanding woman who's made a successful career out of marrying rich men and then divorcing them. But what happens when she sees her first lover on the beach, now an old man and a failure of a painter? It is only after she loses something she didn't realise was so important to her, that she learns about the beauty of imperfection.

    But is it Wanda Winnipeg is a beautiful, rich, demanding woman who's made a successful career out of marrying rich men and then divorcing them. Odette is a single mother and widow, working in a shop by day and sewing feathers on costumes at night. Her one passion is the books of Balthazar Basan: they make her float. For Basan, his new book is being panned and his wife is more distant than ever; a letter from a fan called Odette might possibly be the only thing to bring him back to life.

    A group of women prisoners in the Gulag - all mothers to daughters - work together to secretly create paper and acquire a pencil to write on it with, only to be stumped: what message should they leave their girls, whom they'll probably never see again?

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    The result of their efforts is quite possibly the most beautiful book in the world. These eight stories about wildly different women and the important things in their lives were touching, whimsical and sometimes bitter-sweet, but they all end on a note of hope. Except for Odette, the women tend to all be somewhat cold figures, and seem lost in their own womanhood, as if they woke up one day and couldn't figure out how they had become the women they became. Yet Schmitt has simply and touchingly captured some of the myriad of conflicting emotions and influences of love in the lives of women.

    Naturally, Odette and her passion for stories spoke to me on a personal level, and it's one of the happiest stories, but I felt moved by all the stories. Some were very sad, like "Every Reason to be Happy" and "The Barefoot Princess" - but they all spoke of how easily love and life can slip through your fingers, either because you're not looking or because you've set up entirely the wrong expectations.

    They could be tragic stories precisely because they yearned for something lost and gone, something they couldn't have or didn't realise they had but wanted. The prose was deceptively simple, the stories usually told from an omnipresent, future voice - a voice that already knows what happened. One of the standouts was "The Intruder", about an intelligent woman and journalist, Odile, who keeps seeing an old lady in her apartment and calls the police.


    When her husband Charlie, a journalist, comes back from the Middle East, she breaks down when he calmly tells her he doesn't live there, and hasn't in a long time. What you come to realise is that Odile is the old lady, the man isn't Charlie but their son who lives with his wife and children elsewhere, and that Odile - this woman who has a PhD and a revered career behind her - is losing her marbles.

    On a first reading, I didn't get as much out of it as I wanted to, possibly because I don't read many short stories and it's not a medium I'm terribly comfortable with.