Review 2039: Alien Hearts

It’s hard for me to start this review without a swear word. A lot of discussion goes on in this novel about the nature of love and the difference between men and women, but to my mind, neither Maupassant nor his characters have a clue. But maybe that’s what I should expect from a man who died of syphilis at 43.

André Mariolle is a young, rich dilettante who is introduced into the salon of Madame de Burne, who is known for her flirtations that only go so far. Her salon is peopled with artists and musicians, and Mariolle is an outlier, but she embarks on a flirtation as she would with any new man in her circle. However, this time the two fall in love and begin an affaire.

Mariolle isn’t happy for long, though, because he wants her to be as madly in love with him as he is with her. We get lots of descriptions of heart rendings.

The Introduction to the novel includes a quote about it from Tolstoy: “In this last novel the author does not know who is to be loved and who is to be hated, nor does the reader know it, consequently he does not believe in the events described and is not interested in them.” Yes.

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6 thoughts on “Review 2039: Alien Hearts

  1. historicalfictionisfiction October 4, 2022 / 5:13 pm

    Thanks for the laugh!!!

    I’m currently delving deeply into the history of the romance novel. I’m really interested in how the whole industry got going, since it’s the number one selling genre in this country. Add to that the fact that so many of them are SO badly plotted and/or written. . .

    The book’s title is Women and Romance A reader, edited by Susan Ostrow Weisser, and it’s a collection of readings dating from the 12th century to the present.

    The earliest historical perspective, whether written by a male or female, is very obviously male-invented and male-driven. But I’m reading the excerpt from Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication on the Rights of Women (1792), and she’s really going to town on the men’s perspective. That’s in the same era as de Maupassant’s novel, isn’t it? So the pushback is beginning.

    Looks like this novel is just another romance I can give a miss to. . .

    • whatmeread October 4, 2022 / 6:17 pm

      No, de Maupassant is 19th century, and he would call this a book about sophisticated LOVE rather than a romance novel. It’s more like something by Colette, rather cynical, except that it stinks.

  2. FictionFan October 5, 2022 / 12:25 am

    Haha, I love your brutal opening paragraph! Must be nice to know Tolstoy agrees with you… 😉 One to miss – thanks for the warning!

  3. thecontentreader October 6, 2022 / 4:30 am

    Thank you for the review. I think I don’t have to read this one. Great review though.

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