Giovanni’s Room

Monday, July 7, 2014

Giovanni’s Room
by James Baldwin

David is a young man living in Paris and reflecting on a doomed love affair. This poetic story, a mere 160 pages, delves not only into his relationship with Giovanni, but also into his confusion, self-loathing, loneliness, shame and more. In a flawed attempt to figure out who he is and what he truly wants, David has a tendency to hurt those around him with little or no feeling. Baldwin’s beautiful and succinct writing style pulls readers into David’s world.  

In addition to telling a tragic love story, the book touches on the complicated role women held in society in the early 20th century. As they began to gain the freedom to make their own decisions they realized that in many ways they weren’t really free. The expectation was still that they find a husband as soon as possible.
“I don’t see what’s so hard about being a woman. At least, not as long as she’s got a man.” “‘That’s just it,’ said she. ‘Hasn’t it ever struck you that that’s a sort of humiliating necessity?’” … ‘I began to realize it in Spain that – that I wasn’t free, that I couldn’t be free until I was attached – no committed to someone.’”

BOTTOM LINE: A haunting look at love and its many forms, this story reminds the readers of the importance of understanding who you are. The pain and heartbreak is universal when we can’t even be honest with ourselves.

“But people can’t, unhappily, invent their mooring posts, their lovers and their friends, any more than they can invent their parents.”

“Much has been written of love turning to hatred, of the heart growing cold with the death of love. It is a remarkable process. It is far more terrible than anything I have ever read about it, more terrible than anything I will ever be able to say.”

*My edition is part of the Penguin Great Loves Series. The whole series is just gorgeous!
Also, this was my Classics Club spin book and I’m so glad I finally read it.


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I've heard this book mentioned in the past, but never knew what it was about. Thanks for sharing Melissa.

Bybee said...

I also want to read this one!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on a clssics spin book! I don't think I know anything about this one.

Loni said...

I've read Baldwin's Go Tell It On The Mountain, which was great. I'm adding this one to my list too.

My spin book was fantastic. Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood:

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Diane - Any time!

Bybee - Very interesting!

bkclubcare - I'd never heard of it before either, but I kept seeing people mention it lately.

Loni - That's the next Baldwin I want to read! You can't go wrong with Atwood.

Brona said...

This sounds wonderful Melissa - you've made it sound very appealing. Looks like another book being added to my TBR wish list :-)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Brona - I hope you enjoy it!