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The Woman In The Fifth (2007)

The Woman in the Fifth (2007)
3.25 of 5 Votes: 2
0091799546 (ISBN13: 9780091799540)
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The Woman In The Fifth (2007)
The Woman In The Fifth (2007)

About book: Haunting and violent tale of lust and loss. When your wife and your boss, who have been carrying on an affair, conspire to destroy your career, a flirtation begins and ends in scandal, your daughter despises you and will not see you, and reporters hound you no matter where you are, what do you do? Fly to Paris and start over. Harry Ricks arrived in Paris, checked into a hotel, immediately became ill, and spent the next ten days with a mercenary hotel manager who fleeced him for everything, including a doctor’s charges. The night desk clerk helped Harry and, when asked where he could go, offered to take him to the tenth arrondissement, the Turkish quartier, and help get him into a room down the hall from his own. The hunted have no other choices when they want to hide. Harry’s problems were just beginning to settle down when he attended a salon and met a woman that fills him with lust and desire and a sense of hope—until people he knows, people who have wronged or hurt him are founded murdered. Someone is looking out for Harry and will stop at nothing to remove the obstacles in his path . . . but who is it? Paris evokes gauzy dreams of romantic walks along the Champs Elysees, a cozy tête-à-tête at a sidewalk café while sipping café au lait or a glass of wine, chestnut trees in bloom, and warm rains that nourish the soul. Douglas Kennedy sets Harry down in Paris in the midst of winter, broken and alone, and proceeds to strip Harry of everything and drowns him in fear and loneliness, dragging him down to the depths of Parisian society. Each chapter of Harry’s life is an exercise in the despair of degradation. When Harry meets Margit Kadar, he believes things are turning around and Kennedy continues to drag Harry even farther down into depths he never imagined were possible. There is a sense of the thriller in The Woman in the Fifth (the fifth refers to the fifth arrondissement in Paris) that glimmers with a surreal element that turns dangerous. Margit Kadar is the Cheshire Cat: a lovely intelligent woman of the world with a sad history and razor sharp claws she does not hesitate to use -- on other people or on Harry. I expected a tale of woe and redemption with Harry a modern day Job, and there are elements of Job's catastrophic downfall in Harry's tale. What I got was the terror of a man who thinks he is losing his mind only to find out his worst nightmares are fairy tales compared to the life he is forced to live. Kennedy succeeds in recreating Alice in Wonderland and Job's tale and spinning it on the edge of a straight razor while Harry tumbles endlessly down the rabbit hole. Rich with metaphor and highlighted in dark and bloody colors, this taut thriller dances close to madness in a surreal world one step removed from our own world.

*** Three stars for the first 3/4 of the book; * one star for the ending:I was lucky to win this from a Goodreads/Atria Books giveaway. I've read another book by this author and own two others by him -- I liked him so much after reading one book, I picked up the other two at the Borders going-out-of-business-sale. I had high hopes for this book and they were met for the first 3/4 of the book. The plot was interesting, the characters were dark, creepy, mysterious, likable and hatable. I couldn't read fast enough when the plot picked up in the second half and Harry's world was about to come crumbling down around him (again). Then, it got weird. I don't want to spoil it (even though some reviews already have), but I'll just say that the Woman in the Fifth is not who I thought she'd be. At All. I liked that she was mysterious. I liked that as a reader you begin to see things before the character Harry does. I liked that I was suspecting her of wrong doing. But, I didn't like WHY these things happened and WHO/WHAT she was. So, I gave it three stars because I liked most of it. I think there needs to be a rating for "disappointing" or "good start, bad ending." I'll still read the other books I have by this author. But I just don't think I can whole-heartedly recommend this one. Sad because he is a talented writer.
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Joan Guichard
This is a pointed critique and does reveal some of the plot so do not read further if you haven't read 'The Woman in the Fifth'. There are many reviews on this site already concerning the general plot and characters so, fellow readers, look elsewhere if you want to know more about those. My concern lies solely with Kennedy's depiction of females in this novel: you'll surmise their reoccurring characteristics below pretty quickly and how they relate to the main character, Harry Rick.Susan Rick (wife of the protagonist) - She's the nagging, cheating, emasculating, bitter and vicious other half. Given her characteristics, poor Harry Rick is driven to pursue a liaison with one of his eighteen-year-old college students, thirty years his junior.Shelley Sutton (the eighteen-year-old college student) turns out to be mentally unstable and a complete fantasist. Poor Harry!Harry Rick's mother, a bitter and mean alcoholic, blames her son for the loss of her career. Poor Harry!Yanna Sezer, the abused and bitter wife of the Turkish bar owner, has a one-night stand with Harry (at her prompting because he's so irresistible), gives him an STD and a death sentence if her husband finds out. Poor Harry!Margit Kadar, the mysterious femme fatale, begins an affair with the obviously irresistible Harry and ends up exerting total control over his life. She's the most the bitter and twisted, the most vicious and unstable, the most emasculating and dominating female character. Poor Harry!Do I feel sorry for poor Harry? No.I regret having read a novel with such a poor characterisation of women.
Greg McClay
A ghost story that is uncreepy and/or unfunny is usually going to be uninteresting. It might have been more creepy if I had known it was supposed to be a ghost story from the getgo but otherwise its not even really hinted at until late in the book. There's some note of it in the cover flaps but I don't always read those and didn't this time.I'll give the book high marks in that if you and your friends have read it offers a lot of bar fodder for "what ifs" and "what would you do?"Lowest marks goes to the author's inconsistent morality. The woman in the fifth lives by what would seem a very strict code and then completely breaks it near the end. And for all the talk in the book about how Americans see everything black and white, its the American who can't tell the difference between good and evil and the Europeans who seem quite comfortable leveling their own personal judgements.Speaking for myself in the "What would you do categoy"... sounds like a good deal to me.
A relatively complex storyline set in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The author has a good knowledge of the city although I noticed a couple of errors which anyone who knows the area would pick up. This was my only gripe - it's fast-paced, clever, extraordinary and that you have to suspend belief to a point. Highly recommended to anyone who likes a thriller, and more so to anyone who has ever spent quality time in Paris.There have been a number of harsh reviews but I am thankful not to be in agreement with them and throughly enjoyed this novel.
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