Alien Hearts is not a very nice book. The two leads are a vain and uninteresting woman who makes herself moderately famous in society by collecting artists and intellectuals by means of making them fall in forever unrequited loved with her and an even more uninteresting man who is rich and at edge of still being a young man and precipice of middle age and who has no real talent, unless you consider insecurity a talent. Oh, and the woman abandons her artists when she receives and opportunity to join higher, more aristocratic society in fin-de-siecle Paris.
The whole assemblage is appropriately alienating. It similar to, but so much more unsettling (and less enjoyable) than The Red Lily. Unlike that book, there are real casualties in this one.
The ‘hero’ seduces a young waitress and takes her as his servant and later promises to ‘keep’ her in a house in Paris with a maid as his mistress. All the while, he is just waiting/preparing to re-enter the ‘heroine’s’ society and possibly her bed. It’s really, really unsettling to read.
I think of The Great Gatsby:
They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together and let other people clean up the mess they had made.
I keep on coming back to the word ‘alienating.’ Everything about the book is profoundly and deliberately alienating.
At least I learned a new word: Ewig-weibliche
Apparently, it means something like the eternal feminine. Goethe made it famous, I guess.