Don’t judge a book by its cover, its fancy french name or its age for that matter. Some also say ‘don’t watch the film before you read the book’. Why? Because believe it or not, this is the story that ‘Cruel Intentions‘ was modelled on. Aside from the fact that it was a damn good film, it also stays true to the original novel, which is set in the decadence of 18th Century France. The scandalous sport of corrupting and destroying the reputations of innocent youths still incites a sense of moral outrage in the reader today.
The main characters Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil are the most evil characters I have ever met, as they personify the corrupt and sadistic underbelly of court-life. The erotic adventures of these two individuals know no bounds, and the pleasure they derive from ruining the good name of many a modest family is the only pleasure they get from their jaded lives. But their latest victims in the form of a married woman and a young maiden, deal them the social death-blow that they so often bestowed on others.
I was pleasantly surprised by how easy this book was, and by saying that I mean how easy it was to read. I’m not sure about other translations, but the cheap penguin classic I picked up was certainly a very good one. The narrative has a certain timeless quality to it, which probably owes to the epistolary style that it’s written in. The story is told through a series of letters sent from one character to another, which enables the reader to access many viewpoints that also gives you a sense that you are being very naughty because you are reading other people’s mail. It certainly made reading very enjoyable, as I felt like part of the plot!Laclos understands his audience. He knows what they want and how to make sure that they are getting it. There were times when I couldn’t put this book down purely because I got so caught up with the drama of ‘who-knows-what-and-whos-telling-who’. Very titillating, highly scandalous and genuinely good.
I give this 4/5 stars.
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