I really loved this little book that explores how love changes from youth to maturity. Who doesn't remember that "fire in the blood" that infects you when you have your first love affair? If you're very lucky perhaps you go on to have a permanent relationship with that first love but, more often, it fizzles out. Even if you have a lasting relationship the quality of the love changes.
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At the center of the novel is Silvio, who has returned to this small town after years away. As his narration unfolds, we are given an intimate picture of the loves and infidelities, the scandals, the youthful ardor and regrets of age that tie Silvio to the long-guarded secrets of the past.
She died in Read an Excerpt Chapter One We were drinking a light punch, the kind we had when I was young, and all sitting around the fire, my Erard cousins, their children and I. It was an autumn evening, the whole sky red above the sodden fields of turned earth. The fiery sunset promised a strong wind the next day; the crows were cawing.
This large, icy house is full of draughts. They blew in from everywhere with the sharp, rich tang of autumn. She looked at me with pity. A prodigal son. By the time I got back to the place where I was born, even the fatted calf had waited for me for so long it had died of old age.
This region, in the middle of France, is both wild and rich. A bourgeoisie reigns here that has only recently emerged from the working classes and is still very close to them, part of a rich bloodline that loves everything that has its roots in the land. Their houses are imposing and isolated, built far from the villages and protected by great forbidding doors with triple locks, like the doors you find in prisons.
Their flat gardens contain almost no flowers, nothing but vegetables and fruit trees trained to produce the best yield. Their sitting rooms are stuffed full of furniture and always shut up; they live in the kitchen to save money on firewood. But, in spite of everything, my idea of the perfect evening is this: I am completely alone; my housekeeper has just put the hens in their coop and gone home, and I am left with my pipe, my dog nestled between my legs, the sound of the mice in the attic, a crackling fire, no newspapers, no books, a bottle of red wine warming slowly on the hearth.
She changed my name from Sylvestre to Silvio. Sylvestre, creature of the woods. That suits you very well. Her eyes laugh like mine and her large mouth too; her hair is black and fine, peeping out in delicate curls from behind the shawl, which she has pulled over her head to keep the draught from her neck. She looks calm and happy now.
A beautiful river, frothy and green, runs past their mill. He has a pointy little grey beard that he slowly strokes. That was when Colette went and sat next to her mother. Is it because of Jean? I so want Jean and me to live together the way you live with Papa. They were sitting on the floor, throwing pine cones into the fire; they had pockets full of them; the cones burst open in the flames with a loud, crackling sound.
Georges was fifteen and Henri thirteen. He seemed a good lad, his face thin and soft, with the beautiful anxious eyes of a hare. Someone sensitive, considerate, easily dominated; almost feminine, but at the same time guarded and shy, with a kind of fierce modesty.
Good Lord, I was nothing like that! Standing slightly apart, I looked at the seven of them. The sitting room is always rather gloomy and, on this November evening, was so dark that when the fire was low, all you could see were the large cauldrons and antique warming pans hanging from the walls, whose copper bottoms reflected even the dimmest light.
I picked up a flaming twig from the fire to relight my pipe and it illuminated my face. An enjoyable. Is Silvio a reliable narrator? Is he honest with himself? How does he change over the course of the novel? Why does he value his solitude so highly? But when I was twenty, how I burned! How is this fire lit within us? It devours everything and then, in a few years, a few months, a few hours even, it burns itself out.
What kinds of damage does it cause to the lives of the main characters in Fire in the Blood? I'll lock the doors. I'll wind the clock. I'll get my cards and play a few games of Solitaire. I'll have a glass of wine. I won't think about anything. I'll go to bed.
I won't sleep much. Instead I'll dream with my eyes open. I'll see people and things from the past. As for you, well, you'll go home, you'll feel miserable, you'll cry, you'll get out Jean's photograph and ask his forgiveness, you'll regret the past, fear the future. Which state of mind is, in fact, preferable? Does the novel seem to support one way of living-passionately or coldly-over the other? What role does repetition play in the novel?
In what ways do Brigitte and Colette both repeat the mistakes of their parents? Why does Silvio feel this way? What extremely complicated emotions-and complex emotional entanglements-does the novel explore?
He was a poor, jealous, clumsy lad who's better off where he is. You blame yourself for his death? Is Colette responsible for her husband's death? What does Silvio mean by suggesting that only chance or destiny are to blame?
Why do the farmers suppress what really happened in Jean's death? What ethos governs how they view and treat their neighbors? Why are they so reluctant to get involved? What role do secrets play in the novel? What causes these secrets to come out? In what ways was hers not a free choice? What does the novel as a whole suggest about the position and relative power of women in rural French society in the years just prior to World War II?
In what ways does this brief sketch accurately describe the main themes of Fire in the Blood? Why doesn't he actually say these things to her? In many ways, Fire in the Blood describes a historical period and social milieu vastly different from contemporary America. What essential human emotions does the novel explore? In what ways does it illuminate issues that are still with us today?
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El ardor de la sangre / Fire In The Blood
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El ardor de la sangre
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Fire in the Blood
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