Rating: 4 stars
Almayer’s Folly is an incredible first novel. So intense and truthful. I love how well Conrad understands what makes people tick, and especially the interplay between men and women. Conrad’s prose is beautiful. His understanding of human nature is complete. This is a tragic tale of hopes thwarted by the hardship of life and the weak spirit of one man. Almayer’s Folly is the name given to the house built by the titular hero to house his family and demonstrate his wealth and success. It is also the theme of his life – from presuming he would inherit the fortune of his boss by marrying his adopted daughter, to thinking he could throw that daughter off when he no longer needed her, and his belief that his position as the only white man on the east coast of Malaysia would secure his fortunes. He is a weak man, who can’t rid himself of the angry woman who has been forced to marry, can’t prevent his father in law from taking his own daughter from him, and ultimately can’t make reparation with his only child. In the middle is a love story, told simply and perfectly. It’s only a short book, but it properly filled my brain.