FIRST CHAPTER, FIRST PARAGRAPH: Giovanni’s Room, by James Baldwin

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First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday is hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea!

James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room is part of the classics challenge I am doing this year (and spectacularly failing at, but I still have time to catch up). The edition I have is part of Penguin’s Great Loves series that contains twenty volumes of love. The back cover of this says “Love can be dishonest.” In Giovanni’s Room, when David meets the sensual Giovanni in a bohemian bar, he is swept into a passionate love affair. But his girlfriend’s return to Paris destroys everything. Unable to admit to the truth, David pretends the liaison never happened – while Giovanni’s life descends into tragedy.

I stand at the window of this great house in the south of France as night falls, the night which is leading me to the most terrible morning of my life. I have a drink in my hands, there is a bottle at my elbow. I watch my reflection in the darkening gleam of the window pane. My reflection is tall, perhaps rather like an arrow, my blond hair gleams. My face is like a face you have seen many times. My ancestors conquered a continent, pushing across death-laden plains, until they came to an ocean which faced away from Europe into a darker past.

Have you read this? What did you think?

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