The Chateau

The Chateau

William Maxwell / Jun 06, 2020

The Chateau It is and a young American couple arrive in France for a holiday full of anticipation and enthusiasm But the countryside and people are war battered and their reception at the Chateau Beaumesni

  • Title: The Chateau
  • Author: William Maxwell
  • ISBN: 9781860468148
  • Page: 134
  • Format: Paperback
  • It is 1948 and a young American couple arrive in France for a holiday, full of anticipation and enthusiasm But the countryside and people are war battered, and their reception at the Chateau Beaumesnil is not all the open hearted Americans could wish for.

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      Published :2019-06-08T16:28:13+00:00

    About "William Maxwell"

      • William Maxwell

        William Keepers Maxwell Jr was an American novelist, and fiction editor at the New Yorker He studied at the University of Illinois and Harvard University Maxwell wrote six highly acclaimed novels, a number of short stories and essays, children s stories, and a memoir, Ancestors 1972 His award winning fiction, which is increasingly seen as some of the most important of the 20th Century, has recurring themes of childhood, family, loss and lives changed quietly and irreparably Much of his work is autobiographical, particularly concerning the loss of his mother when he was 10 years old growing up in the rural Midwest of America and the house where he lived at the time, which he referred to as the Wunderkammer or Chamber of Wonders He wrote of his loss It happened too suddenly, with no warning, and we none of us could believe it or bear it the beautiful, imaginative, protected world of my childhood swept away Since his death in 2000 several works of biography have appeared, including A William Maxwell Portrait Memories and Appreciations W W Norton Co 2004 , My Mentor A Young Man s Friendship with William Maxwell by Alec Wilkinson Houghton Mifflin, 2002 , and William Maxwell A Literary Life by Barbara Burkhardt University of Illinois Press, 2005 In 2008 the Library of America published the first of two collections of William Maxwell, Early Novels and Stories, Christopher Carduff editor His collected edition of William Maxwell s fiction, published to mark the writer s centenary, was completed by a second volume, Later Novels and Stories in the fall of 2008.


    1. This is a well-written (Maxwell doesn't write any other way) novel with a nostalgic feel (again, Maxwell doesn't seem to write any other way), with the longer first part (of two) reading almost like a travel diary at times; and just when you're wondering, near the end of that first part, what it might all mean, you arrive at the second part, which is almost meta-fiction, and requires the first part to achieve its ends. Though the novel is not at all derivative, Maxwell's love for Virginia Woolf [...]

    2. I had never read any Maxwell before, nor based upon the descriptions of his other work, am I likely to do so - those themes just don't interest me. But, I decided to spend an Audible credit on this one, after listening to the sample. A good choice as it turned out.Without rehashing the plot (too much), a young American couple tour Europe in 1948, during the rebuilding of the former war zone. For the first part of the book, they're based at a country estate of a family that takes in lodgers to ma [...]

    3. A strange book. When I try and say what it's about, all I can think to say is that it's about a couple on vacation. But there's so much more. Maxwell captures perfectly the feelings of alienation in the traveler. There's the social disappointments, the inadvertent offense given, the anxiety about being taken advantage of. The book has its own weird sort of suspense. It's by no means a potboiler, but you read to find out what's behind the mysterious behavior of other characters and to see if the [...]

    4. It’s ridiculous but I have put off this review of William Maxwell’s The Chateau for over six months. Why? Well for the uninitiated Maxwell was a legendary mentor for many famous writer of his day and he edited The New Yorker from 1936 to 1975. So, how dare I critique his work. What could I have to say? But of course the other part of me was fascinated. What were his novels like? The Chateau intrigued me. Two young Americans visit in France in 1948.Quite straight forward to start with. Harold [...]

    5. What a refreshing change from the hectic melodrama of Haweswater! Maxwell's style is clipped and urbane, of its time (1961) with a hint of modernism (talking furniture ). Somehow what should be a mundane travel journal with no plot to speak of is endlessly captivating, as the naive young American couple Harold and Barbara fall in love with France but consistently struggle to grasp what's going on around them and understand all the subtle nuances of social interaction with the family they stay wi [...]

    6. Maxwell, William. THE CHATEAU. (1961). ****. I’ve said it before: Maxwell was one of America’s finest writers. This novel – though not his best – demonstrates how he was able to enfold the reader into a story where nothing dramatic really happens. It tells the story of Harold and Barbara, a young couple married for three years, and their trip to France on vacation in 1948. They spend most of their time in the Loire Valley, at the chateau of Mme. Viennot as paying guests. Mme. Viennot is [...]

    7. A strange novel really. I discovered William Maxwell by picking up a copy of his novella 'They Came Like Swallows', which I loved, but this never quite gets going. It's the story of an American couple visiting France just after the Second World War, and the various French friends that they make along the way. It's a study of the friendships that we make when travelling, and though there is a precision and clarity to the writing that I enjoyed, it felt like an idea for another novella bloated by [...]

    8. This is a rare gem of a book. It is so perfect in its depiction of traveling and falling in love with another country that, not only would I not change a word, I found section after section I wanted to absorb into my skin. Although written sixty years ago and set just after World War II, the interactions and reactions of a young American couple with the French and in France remain relevant, painful, hilarious, and true. Its peaceful pace belies the profound transformation of its principal charac [...]

    9. Enough! Bastante! Abbastanza! I'm not gonna try to read this anymore. Can this be the same author who wrote the pointed and precise So Long, See You Tomorrow? I spent days and days forcing myself to keep trying with this book. It was all I could do to get through a chapter a day, sometimes not even that. I made it to page 138. It felt more like drudgery than an enjoyable reading experience, so I quit. The book has its good moments. I stayed with it as long as I did because it was interesting to [...]

    10. Having read most of the book before our Book Group meeting I felt that I should perhaps finish it. Now I wish I hadn't wasted my time. Such a tedious trek through Barbara and Harold's holiday and not saved by the final chapter "Some Explanations" which were also uninteresting. I will be glad to remove this book from my bookshelf.

    11. Despite my fascination with The New Yorker, I only found out about this writer through the TLS (and had to buy it at the time from ) and it sounded like the perfect book to buy for an upcoming trip to France. Maxwell's gentle prose and nostalgic story grabbed me at a time when I was no longer reading many novels and I fell completely in love with it.

    12. This was a very delicate, slow book, and - without spoiling anything - it remained realistically focused on alienation and interior motives. I kept waiting for the kicker, the twist, the dark side of human nature to pop up, but no, this book was faithful to the good-natured and well- intentioned misunderstandings, frustrations, and miscommunications of being a foreigner. Post-war France was obviously not all roses and daisies, which the idealistic couple slowly learns as they tour bullet-pocked [...]

    13. I loved this book, but I think it's not for every reader. The writing is beautiful and in some places feels a bit experimental--which sometimes works, and sometimes doesn't. The story is about an American couple on a months-long vacation in Europe, though it focuses specifically on their time in France, and much of the book is set during their two weeks in a country chateau, where they are paying guests. Nothing happens in this book. It is very deliberately paced. The narrative tension comes thr [...]

    14. A rich and romantic story of a young American couple visiting France shortly after WW2; not Maxwell's best but still enjoyable. As Howard and Barbara Rhodes fall in love with France and its culture, they want to BE French and relate on an easy and intimate level with everyone they meet. Of course this isn't possible, and there is much self examination and recrimination, as well as self-congratulation when they get it right. The motives of their hosts and new acquaintances are often mysterious an [...]

    15. An American couple, early in their marriage, spend a couple of months sightseeing in France soon after the second world war. They stay at a chateau belonging to an older woman and meet several relatives and friends. There is confusion at times about others feelings towards them because of difference in language and culture. They also spend time in Paris, enjoying many of the attractions of the city and they visit other chateaus in the countryside. The only plot seems to be their interaction with [...]

    16. "The Chateau" doesn't measure up to William Maxwell's best novels in any way. I'm a big fan of Maxwell's lean, simple, evocative, very human writing, but this book was slow and dull; it's a big disappointment for those weened on Maxwell's much better novels such as "Time Will Darken It" (one of my favorites). I confess I couldn't even make it through "The Chateau," though I got well into it, hoping it would improve. I feel bad for those whose first Maxwell is this novel; they have no idea how go [...]

    17. Gave up half-way through, because it was so tedious. Watching paint dry would have been scintillating in comparison.Harold and Barbara have breakfast in the French chateau they are holidaying in; Harold and Barbara go on an excursion; Harold and Barbara have lunch; Harold and Barbara go on an excursion; Harold and Barbara have dinner with their equally boring guests; Harold and Barbara go to bed in their cold, damp room.Repeat for 402 pages, and rue the fortnight of your life that you will never [...]

    18. I tried to finish this but couldn't. An American couple staying in France and paying money to stay in a Chateau but didn't like asking to have hot water, having use of bicycles etc. Blah! The story before they got to the Chateau was the most interesting! Once I found I was skipping pages I realised it was time to stop!

    19. An interesting read that I am still thinking about, wondering how much my thoughts are influenced by having lived in France for six years, so I don't see it through the eyes of someone who hasn't encountered french culture up close, more like someone in-between, not on the inside, not quite on the outside either.

    20. Mmmmmm a perfect depiction of miscommunications and misunderstandings between cultures and languages. Lacks passion, humor, or illicitation of any feelings other then "oh, that's too bad for them." Forgettable?

    21. Moral of the story: Americans and Europeans just don't get each other. Particularly not after a war experience that was hugely different for each.

    22. I really liked his reflections on being abroad, but I didn't get anything out of the story itself. I would have preferred a non-fiction essay by him on travel, living abroad, etc.

    23. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book during my first visit to Paris. At first, it reads like a travelogue with a young American couple visiting different parts of Europe right after WWII. But the novel has excellent internal monologue as the narrator always worries that he has misspoken, mispronounced or been misunderstood. It is an excellent take on being an outsider in a foreign land and never feeling quite at home, even when you can speak the language fairly well. Having just been to Paris, [...]

    24. I looooove Maxwell. But the only interesting part of this book is how the American couple are shunned and retreat, then charmed and sucked back in. I keep skipping paragraphs and skimming, and I think, though I am 1/2+ through, I might abandon this clunker. Interested in how others could rate it above a 2.5. Even his prose seems flat and un engaging to me.

    25. I can't decide between 3 and four stars. This book took me a long time to get through, but it has an intangible quality to it that I really enjoyed, which is one reason I kept reading. It's also beautifully written and takes place in France, and I'm a total Francophile so I was bound to enjoy it.

    26. A refreshing account set in post war France, at times funny and clever. It's lighthearted and insightful at the same time. I felt I was living in France as a visitor as are Harold and Barbara in the story. I liked its open hearted and non cynical tone a lot.

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