Alexandre Dumas (fils)'s Camille/The Lady of the Camellias

Camille - Toril Moi, Alexandre Dumas-fils

Marguerite Gautier is the most beautiful, brazen—and expensive—courtesan in all of Paris. Despite being ill with consumption, she lives a glittering, moneyed life of nonstop parties and aristocratic balls and savors every day as if it were her last.

Into her life comes Armand Duval. Young, handsome, and recklessly headstrong, he is hopelessly in love with Marguerite, but not nearly rich enough. Yet Armand is Marguerite’s first true love, and against her better judgment, she throws away her upper-class lifestyle for him. But as intense as their love for each other is, it challenges a reality that cannot be denied.…
[ synopsis from goodreads ]

 

 

So one day I was perusing Armie Hammer's trivia page on imdb and discovered two things: one, that he was named after his grandfather and, two, his grandfather was named after this book. And that's when I began the long and hilarious (well, hilarious to me??) journey of finding this book.

You know Alexandre Dumas, right? He wrote the Three Musketeers. Everyone knows that? Little known fact. He didn't write Camille. Or, rather, The Lady of the Camellias (I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND WHY THIS BOOK WAS SHORTENED TO JUST CAMILLE. IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. LADY OF THE CAMELLIAS MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. CAMILLE? NONE WHATSOEVER. /rant) Actually Alexandre Dumas had a son. Who was also a writer. Though the two were estranged. But yet his son still referenced his father as one of the greatest literary minds within the narrative of this story. Go figure.

So it seems that Alexandre Dumas the son (fils) is sometimes credited as the son and sometimes now. I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO CONFUSED IN MY LIFE. But, long story short (ha), I finally managed to track down this book under a different name and with the son only vaguely credited as the son.

Whew. The things I go through for you, Armie Hammer.

Okay, yeah. So actual thoughts about this novel. I can't entirely decide how I feel about it?? On the one hand, I really loved it. But on the other, there were definitely sometimes that bugged me??

So Armand. I loved him most of the time. But he was also really whiny and had to apologize for, like, eVERYTHING HE DID EVER??? Like wow. Bad decisions 101. BUT MARGUERITE. I LOVED MARGUERITE. She might even be one of my top 10 favorite female characters?? So I don't know if my annoyance of Armand stemmed from my love of Marguerite??

But, honestly, the reason I am giving this four stars instead of five and not deeming it as one of my favorites is purely because of how sad this story made me. I absolutely HATED that during this time, rising above your station was pretty much IMPOSSIBLE. There was one part where I literally just closed the book in frustration because I was so upset for Marguerite. Armand wanted to give her a better life and wanted to "safe her". But she wanted to save herself. And a) he wouldn't let her and b) no one else would let her either.

This book was so good but so, so tragic. And I think it's more of a frustration with the time period that kept me from truly loving this book. Because I felt for Marguerite and I wanted all the best for her. And, in the end, she didn't get it. She deserved a lifetime of happiness, not the mere moment that was begrudgingly given to her. And for that, I will always be sad.

So I loved the book to a point. It was a book that I did enjoy reading. Even though I always knew what was coming, I still somehow hoped things would end differently.

I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of French classics. It's wonderfully written and has amazing characters (*waves flag in Marguerite's direction*). And it's just an all around well written novel and definitely a classic worth checking out!

 

review originally posted on goodreads