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If We Were Villains Broché – 17 avril 2018
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"Much like Donna Tartt's The Secret History, M. L. Rio's sparkling debut is a richly layered story of love, friendship, and obsession...will keep you riveted through its final, electrifying moments."
--Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author of The Nest
Nerdily (and winningly) in love with Shakespeare...Readable, smart."
--New York Times Book Review
On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.
A decade ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extras.
But in their fourth and final year, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students' world of make-believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.
If We Were Villains was named one of Bustle's Best Thriller Novels of the Year, and Mystery Scene says, A well-written and gripping ode to the stage...A fascinating, unorthodox take on rivalry, friendship, and truth.
Description du produit
Biographie de l'auteur
Détails sur le produit
- Éditeur : Flatiron Books; Reprint édition (17 avril 2018)
- Langue : Anglais
- Broché : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250095298
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250095299
- Poids de l'article : 295 g
- Dimensions : 13.72 x 2.92 x 20.83 cm
- Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon : 4,523 en Suspense (Livres)
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À propos de l'auteur
Meilleures évaluations de France
Un problème s'est produit lors du filtrage des commentaires. Veuillez réessayer ultérieurement.
but honestly be prepared for a non stop read, i could’t put it away ... and you might want to burn the book or cry or scream... you’re Gonna suffer but you’re Gonna be happy about it ;)
Ce roman anglophone n’a pas été (encore) traduit en français : quel dommage pour le lectorat francophone ! If we were villains est une pépite rendant hommage au grand génie de Shakespeare, et qui ne peut que plaire à tous les amoureux du théâtre et des beaux mots – ce qui est totalement mon cas. Alors je n’ai pu qu’être séduite par cette œuvre écrite par l’énigmatique M.L Rio, et voilà ce qui devrait aussi vous faire craquer :
If we were villains est un huis-clos intriguant. Découpé en 3 actes, le livre ouvre chacune de ses parties par une scène du temps présent : le narrateur, Oliver, vient de terminer sa peine de 10 ans de prison, après un crime commis lorsqu’il n’était encore qu’étudiant dans une prestigieuse école dramatique. Après 10 ans passés derrière les barreaux, il est temps pour lui de parler, et d’enfin révéler les secrets de ce crime. En effet, le commissaire l’ayant arrêté ne croit pas à la version des faits ayant été donnée il y a une décennie, et, prenant sa retraite, souhaite enfin connaitre la vérité. Qu’à cela ne tienne, Oliver est enfin prêt à se confier : et il dévoile au lecteur le déroulement des faits de cette quatrième année d’étude. Prise dès le départ par cette enquête dépoussiérée, c’est surtout l’ambiance théâtrale et quelque peu malsaine qui m’a envoutée. En effet, l’inspiration théâtrale ne berce pas juste le fond de l’histoire (les lieux et activités), mais aussi sa forme ! La plupart des dialogues sont écrits sous forme de répliques – et ça, franchement, je suis fan !
La majorité de l’intrigue se déroule sur le campus élitiste et autour des 7 étudiants de 4e année (Oliver, James, Richard, Alexander, Wren, Filippa et Meredith). Ce côté huis-clos/élite, et toute l’intrigue policière autour (un meurtre, des secrets…) m’a clairement fait pensé à la bande des Keating 5, pour ceux qui connaissent la super série How to get away with murder (Murder pour la VF). C’est toute une ambiance construite autour de l’amour pour le théâtre qui rend très addictif le lecteur à ce petit côté malsain.
Et puis la fin… fin on ne peut plus ouverte, trainant encore ses mystères derrière elle, elle est si délectable, mais si frustrante !! Attention, ceux qui aiment les résolutions complètes, ne vous aventurez pas dans IWWV : des semaines plus tard, j’essaye encore de résoudre ce dernier grand mystère…
Il y a néanmoins quelques points noirs, mais rien de très affolant : ils ne viennent nullement ternir mon ressenti ! Le premier truc sur lequel j’aimerais râler, ce sont les premiers chapitres : ils sont beaucoup trop courts ! Mais ils sont là pour installer un certain rythme à l’histoire, et s’assurer que le lecteur soit pris dedans. Heureusement, au fur et à mesure des pages, les chapitres s’allongent, et on n’a que plus de plaisir à lire ça. Autre petit point négatif : le gros plot-twist, celui du crime qui a valu 10 ans de prison à Oliver, arrive (selon moi) un peu trop tôt dans l’histoire. Finalement, ce n’est pas si gênant que cela, puisque l’enquête justement s’étire sur plusieurs mois. Ce n’est juste que je m’y attendais plus tardivement, et j’ai été surprise de le voir dans la première moitié du bouquin. Un point négatif qui est néanmoins vite rattrapé par la suite de l’histoire !
Autant dire que cette lecture m’a marquée, et que si je suis dans une petite panne de lecture en ce moment, c’est grandement à cause d’elle. Un livre vraiment, vraiment addictif et très prenant, une intrigue haletante, et des personnages assez stéréotypés – ou pas… ? Alors, malheureusement, seuls les lecteurs anglophones pourront découvrir If we were villains, mais on croise très fort les doigts pour qu’un jour il soit publié en France !
Meilleurs commentaires provenant d’autres pays
Oliver, the protagonist, begins the book being released from prison after serving a ten year sentence. He is met by Detective Colborne who put him behind bars and wants to know the truth about the events leading to his incarceration. Through flashbacks divided into Acts we learn about the group’s final year at Dellecher Classical Conservatory and the building claustrophobia that consumed them.
Oliver and his friends; Richard, Meredith, Filippa, Alexander, Wren and James are a tight knit group who live, study and act together. They live and breathe Shakespeare; they study him, they act in his plays and their speech is littered with his quotes. They have their own secret language which makes them impenetrable and almost cult like. They are in their final year and each has adopted a role both within their friendship group and on stage; the hero, the villain, the tyrant, the temptress, the ingénue and the extra. Tensions are ramped up when they are assigned roles in Julius Caeser and the pressures of the play spill over into their day-to-day lives dividing them and causing life-changing rifts. M.L. Rio ramps the tension up so well, we know something will happen but we don’t quite know what and there is an overarching sense of impending doom which oozes from the pages.
I thought the characters were wonderfully created, each had their own distinctive voice and I loved how their relationships with one another played out. Oliver’s friendship with James for instance was beautifully and subtly written and was one of my favourite parts of the novel. I also really liked that the book was divided into Acts as it helped to drive the action and was a lovely nod to the Shakespearean aspects of the novel.
I was astounded to discover that If We Were Villains was a debut book, it is so incredibly well written with beautiful and literary passages that I cannot stop thinking about. The Romeo and Juliet play for example was exquisite, moving and emotional and I was gripped. The use of the play’s words to communicate everything that cannot be said in real life was astounding and some of the passages were incredibly delicate, elegant and erotic.
I have to say that this book really appealed to my English Literature background and geeky Shakespeare love. I am by no means an expert at all, and whilst I think this book could be read and enjoyed knowing nothing of his plays, I think you’d get far more from it if you have at least some knowledge. If We Were Villains really isn’t pretentious or elitist, it is very much a coming of age novel with real depth and layers. Anybody who has been in a tight-knit friendship group or who has lived with a group of people can understand the feelings and emotions experienced by the main players of this novel.
This book is going on my Favourite Book list and I think I am going to give it a second read so I can absorb some more of the beautiful imagery and world that M.L. Rio has created in this extraordinary book.
The book is well written (if not to the standard of Tartt), but the characters felt somewhat flat- while a character doesn't need to be likable to be rounded, the cast here are neither, but do seem to change personality on a regular basis with prima donna mood shifts which go beyond even the drama students I know.
The author is obviously a Shakespeare expert- as can be seen in her writing, even if it wasn't clear from her bio, but the motif became a bit too intrusive for me: characters constantly answering each other with Shakespeare lines, and at times whole pages of quotations- I would estimate if you removed the extended passages made up of Shakespeare dialogue, you would reduce the book by 15%.
The framing device felt forced and unnatural as a means of telling the story, and the 'one final, astonishing twist' (Booklist) is anything but: it was clear where the novel was heading throughout.
It will be interesting to see what the author does as a follow up, and whether the endeavor will move away from such a Shakespearean focus
Putting that aside and taking the book on its own merits, it's generally a compelling read. The plot is ultimately fairly thin, but it's the sense of place, the characters, and the atmosphere that keep you turning the pages. I particularly liked the elite college with its weird rituals and traditions - it felt as fleshed out and magical as Hogwarts and despite some of the unpleasantness, left me with quite the desire to attend.
The characters were basically deliberate archetypes - hero, villain, seductress etc - which was quite a fun idea but rather laboured. The first few chapters spent far too much time spelling out every key character's background and personality rather than letting it come out naturally. The main character and narrator is generally cast as a supporting character, and feels like that's also the role he plays in college life. It was an interesting route to go down and I'm in two minds about whether it helped to make him relatable or whether one of the more flamboyant characters might have made a more compelling lead.
I loved the way Shakespeare was woven into the plot, from the way characters behave and the plot plays out, to the way the characters always quote - or sometimes misquote - the bard, and above all, to the way the intensity of performing certain scenes was portrayed. Reading about the characters' experiences of performing and living these scenes bought the plays to life for me more than any theatrical performance I can remember.
There's a bit of a dual narrative, with the book starting ten years after most of the action, with the main character newly released from prison for some sort of crime he did or didn't commit while at the college. Most of the proper story is what he's recounting to a now-retired policeman who originally investigated the case. I usually love flashbacks and other non-linear narratives, but I think this would have been best told in straight chronological order. From the present day scenes, it wasn't hard to work out what had happened in the past way before it was shown in the narrative, which killed some of the tension, and it didn't really add any particular twists or revelations.
Overall, while this was far from perfect, I'd definitely recommend it.
We are frequently told publishing is getting more and more safe and bland. I don't know whether or not that's actually true - It's big! There's lots of it! - but a book like this is certainly evidence of the opposite.
Taking an idea, and written in a style, that would surely be struck down if one were merely concerned about populist success, this is a thriller that glories - in both form and content - in Shakespeare and of the theatre.
Oliver is a young student at a prestigious US arts conservatory. Dellecher reads a little like a Hogwarts for thespians - complete with a Gothic style castle, a local bar (the 'Bore's Head' - a Shakespeare joke) and extensive grounds, including a lake.
The theatrical training is rigorous, and the acting students are the crème de la crème with the 4th years at the very top of the social scale: every year, students are weeded and the survivors expected to shine. A quirk of Delecher is that only Shakespeare is taught and played: there's something of a culty atmosphere with lines of his dialogue snapped back and forth (either in their original form or tweaked on the fly) between the students. At times I felt a bit inadequate for not knowing where they all (or, I'll admit it, most of them) came from. I'm sure it would add to one's appreciation of the story to know, but it was still perfectly accessible - and, as I said, this feature of the language helps establish just how inward looking the college is.
That's supported by the scant information we get about the students' backgrounds. We only learn a little about Oliver and in a couple of memorable scenes, see his family - his troubled elder sister who is clearly anorexic and his younger sister, desperate for his help and support. Oliver pretty much cold-shoulders them: he's a fascinating central character but does seem rather emotionally distant which becomes a key theme as the college year passes and a heady emotional brew begins to simmer.
Since this book is riffing off Shakespeare, a key ingredient of that brew is, of course, jealousy. Professional (well, studental) jealousy over parts, roles and prominence; personal jealousy over lovers and status. In a narrow, already cliquey setting the temperature rises quickly (fuelled perhaps by the students' prodigious appetite for substances, of various sorts - no, despite what I said, we're really not in Hogwarts now). With passion to be portrayed on stage, there are many opportunities for personal disputes to bleed over into what is acted out, creating an atmosphere of danger and possibility that is fairly crackling and sparking by the middle of the book.
I should add that the story is narrated by Oliver ten years later as he is released from prison. That isn't a spoiler as it's established in the first few lines of the book. Why he was there is what unfolds in the book - and there are many other twists involved that I won't describe because this is above all a high stakes, tense thriller.
What I will say is that it's here Rio really brings Shakespeare to her storytelling. The quoting of lines, the extracts from the plays that the students are performing, adds atmosphere but isn't the heart of the matter. What is key is the structuring, the giving of life to the themes of the plays and above all, the way that the students live dual - or do I mean triple? - lives, playing their own roles, their parts in the plays and, perhaps, somewhere underneath, being real people. And doing all this consciously. It all makes for a powerful, at times almost creepy, experience (in one scene there's a dramatic confrontation in a panelled, candlelit library) not least because we know from the plays some of the bad things that can happen in this invented world.
Done badly, this could quickly become very pretentious but Rio avoids that, in part by having her narrator Oliver apparently be one of the more ordinary and grounded of the students, his emotional apartness meaning he's only half in the same world as the others, a suitable interpreter for Detective Colborne who's hearing it - and also for us.
In a wider, and deeper, respect she's aided of course by the storytelling genius of Shakespeare himself and by his sheer ubiquity in our culture. Yes, it might be an advantage to have read or seen the plays but even if you haven't, you'll know enough of the themes, the characters, the situations that underlie this story.
I said above that this book is far from being safe or bland publishing. I wouldn't want to be taken as my meaning it's difficult or inaccessible - I don't. It is a very different book, one that takes a little getting into, but once you do that, it is just so rewarding.
A strong recommendation from me, then, and kudos to both ML Rio and to Titan for doing something new and fresh.