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Fortune de France by Robert Merle

Fortune de France (1977)

by Robert Merle

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English (9)  French (1)  Hungarian (1)  Czech (1)  All languages (12)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This magnificent historical novel was the first of a 13 volume series about the lives of Huguenots in 16th and 17th century France, written by French author Robert Merle between 1977 and 2003, though only the first three in the series have thus far been translated into English. I thought this was wonderfully written, full of colourful incident and characters, set against the backdrop of the growing religious tensions between Catholics and Huguenots, and centred around the lives of a fictional Huguenot family, the Sioracs. National events are covered, but the family's lives and experiences and those of their companions and servants, an eclectic, interesting and amusing group of people remain at the heart of the story. The brethren of the title are Jean de Siorac and his lifelong friend and companion in arms Jean de Sauveterre. The narrator of the story is Jean de Siorac's younger son by his wife Isabelle, Pierre de Siorac. Following the ups and downs of growing up, facing religious persecution and the vicissitudes of plagues and poor harvests, at the end of the novel, following a sad and moving death of a child companion, Pierre and his half brother Samson, nearing adulthood, set out on their journey of life. I will certainly read following books in this series, the sweeping scope and historical grandeur of which led to the author being described as the 20th century Alexandre Dumas. ( )
  john257hopper | Oct 6, 2017 |
The Brethren is the first of a series of books which look at a turbulent time in French history from the viewpoint of the de Siorac family based in the Dordogne. This volume is narrated by Pierre de Siorac and tells of how his father bought the manor of Mespec with his booty and wages earned in the service of the army. His father's closest friend has contributed to the purchase of the manor and between them (the Brethren) they set up their household. The Brethren are Protestants and they worship in secret as de Siorac's wife and household are Catholic. However over time the household is converted and becomes a Protestant stronghold during times of Huguenot persecution.

The bigger themes of war and religion take almost a secondary narrative role to the adventures of the household which is a pity as it was the bigger themes that drew me to the book. The narration is rather lightweight and almost detached, it is a very picaresque approach and whether that was the intention or is the fault of the translation I am not sure. After reading a number of reviews I was looking forward to reading this book but it disappointed me. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
trans; sprawling earthy tale; 16th cent France
  TheDenizen | May 31, 2016 |
I was all at sea to begin with with my history of France, Francis I, etc. It didn't take long, however, to become immersed in the Perigord region in the 16th century, Mespech and its hidden Protestantism, the threat of the plague, the Sioracs and the family and household problems they had - the universal ones but heightened by the rapid mortality rate. I couldn't put the book down but when I did, I went straight out to buy volume 2 of the 13 volume series.
  jon1lambert | Apr 3, 2016 |
This was not a bad book, and in fact it gave a good insight into life in 16th-century France and the religious wars there. Nonetheless, I did not find the same urge to rush back from work to read it. This is the first of a 12-book series and deals with the narrator's childhood; perhaps the subsequent books (as they appear in English) will have a bit more verve. ( )
  oparaxenos | Nov 27, 2015 |
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Two veteran soldiers retire to a castle in the wildly beautiful Perigord of sixteenth century France. But the country is descending into chaos, plagued by religious strife, famine, pestilence, bands of robbers... and, of course, the English.

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