Sunday, 16 August 2015

Les Liaisons Dangereuses - Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

I really enjoyed this novel from the very beginning. The moral ambiguity of each character and the focus on concealment and manipulation make each individual into a fascinating character study, and the fact that the story is told through letters allows each person's differing viewpoints on the same events to shine through. The correspondence between various members of a connected group gradually builds up into a complex web of interdependent relationships, binding the characters' futures together.

In spite of what feels like an obligatory moral message at the close of the novel, there is a joy and humour in the machinations of the central characters, the Vicomte de Valmont and his ex-lover the Marquise de Merteuil. Their charisma and the genuine affection in their letters to each other, if to none of the other characters, makes it impossible to dislike them however badly they act, and although they are the two pivotal characters, the more minor characters are also given enough space to feel real in their own right.

This is a surprisingly unpredictable novel, full of human complexity and lightened with flashes of humour and irony. Very much worth reading, and I have a few film adaptations ready to watch now I've finished it.

Next up: Death of an Avid Reader by Frances Brody

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