Rating: 3 Stars ★★★☆☆
After changing his five-franc piece Georges Duroy left the restaurant.
Georges Duroy is struggling in Paris, but he wants more. He thinks he deserves more than to be a lowly clerk. And when the opportunity arises, he takes it. He is particularly gifted at using the women of Paris for his own ends. Called Bel-Ami by them, he will stop at nothing to get to the top of fin-de-siecle Paris.
Let’s get this out of the way first: Georges Duroy is an ass. He is a huge ass. We know it from the very beginning when he gleefully recalls his adventures in Africa, where he exploited everyone to get what he wanted.
I hated Duroy with a passion. He is not only a scheming, conniving ass who has no qualms about using anyone who might benefit him. He’s also so incredibly arrogant. I wanted to see him fall.
The bishop was marrying a daughter to her mother’s lover, before her and two thousand persons, and she could say nothing; she could not stop him. She could not cry: “He is mine, that man is my lover. That union you are blessing is infamous.”
It doesn’t work out entirely as I had hoped. Duroy is a whimpy idiot, but he is also a lucky son of a bitch.
To be honest, I was more interested in the women. They were interesting characters. I didn’t quite understand how they could fall for someone like Duroy but I would have liked to know more about them, particularly Madeleine Forestier. She was awesome.
I can tolerate neither control, jealousy, nor criticism as to my conduct. I pledge my word, however, never to compromise the name of the man I marry, nor to render him ridiculopus in the eyes of the world. But that man must promise me to look upon me as an equal, an ally, and not as an inferior, or as an obedient, submissive wife.
However, the style of the book just wasn’t my cup of tea. It was too lost in boring details and the narration? It was all: He did this. Then this. Then that happened. It was annoying.
“Shall we walk around the gallery?”
“If you like.”
Soon they were carried along in the current of promenaders. Duroy drank in with delight the air, vitiated as it was by tobacco and cheap perfume, but Forestier perspired, panted and coughed.
“Let us go into the garden,” he said.
One hell of a detestable protagonist and a fascinating story.