The Catalans A Novel

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The Catalans is Patrick O'Brian's second adult novel, written at Collioure and published in 1953. The original British-market title was The Frozen Flame, but the most recent British edition (HarperCollins paperback, 2006) has adopted the more straightforward American title.

Plot introduction

For more details about the plot, which will contain spoilers, see Summary for The Catalans

Alain Roig, a doctor working in the Far East, is summoned back to his childhood home on the French-Catalonian border to resolve a bitter family dispute: his cousin Xavier, a widower and a respected lawyer and local politician, has horrified his female relatives by planning to marry his secretary Madeleine, the beautiful daughter of a local shopkeeper. Alain conscientiously probes the motives and intentions of the ill-matched pair. Xavier is revealed as a man who believes, with horror, that he has lost the ability to feel; his wife is long dead, he has found it impossible to love his graceless son Dédé, and Madeleine represents his last hope of a connection with the world of life and emotion. Alain's own detachment is undermined as he re-establishes himself in the once familiar world of fishing-fleet and vintage, whose ancient habits and rituals provide both a background and a catalyst for the dramatic resolution.

To be continued

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