- Paperback: 280 pages
- Publisher: Nabu Press (1 May 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1286653118
- ISBN-13: 978-1286653111
- Product Dimensions: 18.9 x 1.5 x 24.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
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Monsieur Beaucaire: The Beautiful Lady. His Own People Paperback – Import, 1 May 2012
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Lady Mary Carlisle is gradually impressed by this French suitor, the Duc de Chateaurien ("castle-nothing"), whose sallies into Society disgust the irate Duke who must maintain a discreet silence. A nobleman's honor/reputation is more important than even his life. All the elements of an adventure romance are present, as the real Duke plots to expose the fraud while salvaging his honor. Yet there are sublte hints that the author is deliberately withholding some vital information from his readers. Ah--it is cruel to trifle with a lady's heart by living a lie, so
who is the worse cheat now?
A light-hearted read which inspired Hollywood movies and an operetta MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE offers subtle themes for the discreet reader: External beauty often mirrors internal beauty. Also, that Honesty and Kindness are more praiseworthy than wealth and rank. (Well, an American's egalitarian viewpoint, at any rate.) So how will Lady Mary react when her French Duc is unmasked? Or will he confess all to her and throw himself on her mercy? Will she ultimately regret her hasty decision? A literary soap opera disguised as a period piece--related with the Yankee touch-- this novella proves an amusing read for armchair swashbucklers.
The plot is light and frivolous, and does not compare well against such other period pieces as "Prisoner of Zenda" and "The Three Musketeers." In addition, I found the heavy French- accented English used by the main character to be a major distraction that hinders flow of the text. Nevertheless, it's clear from the Amazon reviews that several readers have enjoyed this book.
This book is among Tarkington's weaker works, and it may seem surprising that it has not been forgotten like so many of the author's other novels. However, it was made into a play (1904) and an operetta (1919), and has provided the basis for three movies. What's more, Heritage Press gave it new life when it reissued the book in 1960 as an attractive collector's edition, with original colored illustrations and housed in a slipcase.
Monsieur Beaucaire initially gains the notice of Lady Mary Carlisle, but this gets the attention of other potential suitors, and Monsieur Beaucaire has to defend the honor of his queen, and his "friend", the Duke of Winterset. Monsieur Beaucaire is successful in these initial attempts to defend his honor, but at the same time the reader learns that there is probably more to his story than they have initially been told. At the same time, the Duke has not forgotten the embarrassment of being caught cheating at cards, and the way he was used to get him to introduce a commoner into society. still holds a grudge. Winterset's plot to expose Beaucaire works as he expects, but once again the reader is sure that there is something to Beaucaire's story which is not being told. All is revealed in the end, when Beaucaire faces his doubters in front of the Lady Carlisle.
This is a very short piece, which can easily be read in one or two sittings, and it is a fun read. It is lighter in tone than Tarkington's first effort, "The Gentleman from Indiana", which is not surprising given the much shorter length. There is no character development to speak of, and unlike the first novel this is not one from which Tarkington is writing from his own personal experience, nor is it a story from the heartland of America which was his more usual setting. Yet, despite the light and almost superficial story telling, this book has been the basis for two movies. The first starred Rudolph Valentino and is a silent movie from 1924. The second is a Bob Hope movie from 1946. It also served as the basis for an operetta.