The Great and the Good by Michel Deon is an intriguing and perplexing book. Originally published in France in 1996, it was recently translated into English.
A bit about the book:
The Great and the Good is set mostly in the 1950’s. The main character is Arthur, the son of a poor French widow who has huge ambitions for her soon. She wants him to mingle with the Great and the Good, and she wants him to make money. So she encourages him to apply for a Fulbright scholarship to go the U.S. to study and learn about finance – which he does. One of his college lecturers introduces him to Eisenhower’s financial adviser, giving him the opportunities his mother craved for him. He goes on to become a successful stockbroker, returning to his native Paris.
The book is intriguing because it almost feels like a classic. A classic in the sense that it captures the time period perfectly – 1950’s America as an industrial and commercial giant. The character development and scene descriptions are superb – I particularly liked the New York City descriptions.
In contrast, it is perplexing due to the structure of the book. It is a bit tedious at times. Tedious in the organization – paragraphs go on for several pages and the dialogue is a bit hard to follow in certain parts.
Despite the above flaw, it is a wonderful story of a young man coming into his own and how his relationships shape who he becomes.