Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Harold and Maude

Rate this book
Nineteen-year-old Harold Chasen is obsessed with death. He fakes suicides to shock his self-obsessed mother, drives a customized Jaguar hearse, and attends funerals of complete strangers. Seventy-nine-year-old Maude Chardin, on the other hand, adores life. She liberates trees from city sidewalks and transplants them to the forest, paints smiles on the faces of church statues, and “borrows” cars to remind their owners that life is fleeting—here today, gone tomorrow! A chance meeting between the two turns into a madcap, whirlwind romance, and Harold learns that life is worth living. Harold and Maude started as Colin Higgins’ master’s thesis at UCLA Film School, and the script was purchased by Paramount. The film, directed by Hal Ashby, was released in 1971 and it bombed. But soon this quirky, dark comedy began being shown on college campuses and at midnight-movie theaters, and it gained a loyal cult following. This novelization was written by Higgins and published shortly after the film’s release but has been out of print for more than 30 years. Even fans who have seen the movie dozens of times will find this companion valuable, as it gives fresh elements to watch for and answers many of the film’s unresolved questions.

150 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1971

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Colin Higgins

14 books12 followers
Hollywood screenwriter, director, producer, Colin Patrick Higgins was born on July 28th, 1941 in Nemea, New Caledonia, a French territorial island in the South Pacific. His mother was Australian and his father American. Colin spent his childhood in a suburb of Sydney Australia. The Higgins family grew to six sons, including a set of twins. As Colin’s father, a purser on the Matson Steam Ship Lines, was at sea for months at a time, Colin’s mother had her hands full. She often took the boys to live musicals and American movies. Colin often said the seeds of his film career were planted then. In the late Fifties, the Higgins family moved to Redwood City, California. Colin won an English scholarship to attend nearby Stanford University.

In the fall of 1959, his freshmen year, Colin performed in a student written musical comedy show and was such a hit, he became a star on campus overnight. Being an English major, he had always thought writing would be a natural goal. But now he was drawn to acting as well. Colin dropped out of Stanford in his sophomore year. He hitchhiked across the country to New York and studied acting at the Actor’s Studio for a few months. With the Vietnam war heating up and facing the draft, Colin volunteered for service in the U.S. Army.

In 1967, Colin received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Stanford. Colin signed on for a six-month hitch as a merchant seaman on a freighter bound for the Orient. Fired in Guam for laughing at something while the Captain was speaking, Colin had to pay his own way back to the States. Broke, unsure of what he wanted to do with his life, he hitchhiked to Montreal, Canada for the Exposition/ World’s Fair. There the imaginative films presented at several of the pavilions inspired him. He decided to become a filmmaker.

In the fall of 1968, he entered U.C.L.A. Film School. Three years later, Colin’s Master’s thesis script was Harold and Maude. Over a weekend, it was sold to Paramount. Colin was supposed to have directed but ended up being one of the producers. With no stars, or advance publicity, Colin’s debut film bombed at the box office and was quickly yanked from distribution. Colin, however, wrote a novel version for Lippincott.

In August of 1988, shortly after his 47th birthday, Colin passed away from AIDS related illnesses. His legacies, however, will be lasting – the laughter of his films, plus his on-going charitable Foundation. These alone will insure that Colin Higgins will long be remembered, not just for his heart-warming films, but also for his extraordinary humanity.


Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
920 (40%)
4 stars
804 (35%)
3 stars
401 (17%)
2 stars
124 (5%)
1 star
38 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 219 reviews
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,563 reviews5,862 followers
February 27, 2015
Well, this book was different.

Harold is a tad different than most 19 year olds. He is fascinated by death, goes to funerals for fun and loves to fake his own death.

His mom decides it's time he got married so that he will shape up and start acting normally.
She enters him into the dating scene and well that works out fine...
Mrs. Chasen smiled. Behind her on the lawn Harold was pouring the contents of the can of kerosene all over himself. Candy looked a little nonplused. "I think I should mention, Candy," said Mrs. Chasen, "that Harold does have his eccentric moments."

Then Harold meets Maude. (I'm gonna be Maude when I grow up)
They meet at a funeral..because funerals are fun.

Maude gives Harold the gift of living life..I mean she steals cars to go around and steals trees from the courthouse. Full of life our Maude is. I love her.
Then..Harold decides Maude is it for him.
The wind blew gently in her hair. Harold reached over and took her hand. He looked down at the wrinkles and splotches of age, and covered it with his. "You're beautiful," he said.
I might be one of those hermit types but I've never seen this movie. Must correct that.

I received an arc copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.
Profile Image for Melki.
5,667 reviews2,323 followers
September 27, 2018
The "manic pixie dream girl" who wheedles and cajoles a straight-laced male into enjoying and appreciating life is nothing new. She's been plying her girlish wiles in films for decades now. Once played by the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Goldie Hawn, these plum roles now go to Hawn's daughter, Kate Hudson, and Zooey Deschanel.

The twist in Harold and Maude is that the dream-spinning pixie is played by Ruth Gordon, a nymphet nearing 80. By being wacky and perky and just so damned lovable, she convinces Bud Cort to join the human race and have some fun.

Basically, if you've seen this most perfectly cast movie, you've read the book. Little was changed thanks to the fact that the author also wrote the screenplay - almost always a good thing, in my opinion.

This book reminds me so much of titles I read during my early teens; books written during the sixties like The Graduate and The Sterile Cuckoo that were pulsing with vibes from The Summer of Love, where free spirits just want to exist and experience, man, but the squares keep wanting them to find jobs and get married. Bummer!

Maude is quite the bohemian, helping herself to others' possessions and ignoring the consequences. I'm pretty sure she was not always this way. Her character doesn't dwell on the negative, but there are hints that she has had a dark and troubled past. We're kind of left up in the air as to what will become of Harold, though we can rest assured his life has been bettered by having spent time with Maude.

This was an interesting time of life for me to read this book. Add thirty years to my age, and I could be Maude; subtract thirty years, and I would be Harold's age. I think the real message of this book is enjoy your life, make new friends, and be kind to others, dammit!

No matter what age you happen to be, there's always time for joy.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,414 reviews7,410 followers
January 25, 2015
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

Commercial Photography

"It's been my experience that it's kindness that matters, and kindness is what the world sorely lacks."

Harold isn't what you'd call your average 19 year old. He spends his free time a little differently than most young men . . .

Commercial Photography

When he's not faking his own suicide, he attends funerals in order to pass the time. It's there that he meets Maude, a soon-to-be 80 year old with a real zest for life. As their friendship grows, Maude teaches Harold how to leave his idealizations of death in the past in order to live life to the fullest . . .

Commercial Photography

and eventually one of the sweetest (and easily most unique) romances of all-time blossoms . . .

Commercial Photography

"I believe that much of the world's sorrow comes from people who know they are this" - she held the daisy in her hand - "yet let themselves be treated as that."

Commercial Photography

If you haven't yet experienced Harold and Maude, I highly encourage you to do so. At over 40 years old, the film proves to be timeless. And although this book is simply a novelization of the film, so there's no additional material not contained in the movie version, it's still adorable and a great addition for your library.

Commercial Photography

Endless thanks to NetGalley for providing me an ARC of one of my favorite stories
Profile Image for Emi.acg.
451 reviews131 followers
February 13, 2022
Popsugar reading challenge 2022 categoría 15. Un libro de un autor(a) de las islas del Pacífico.

Básicamente este libro lo escogí para el reto al no tener otra opción y no querer buscar algo más así que nada xd
Me pareció una historia absurda de principio a fin, aunque ya al final me acostumbre a su ritmo y a las tonterías que hacían ambos personajes y ya no estuvo tan terrible aunque a fin de cuentas igual no me gustó.
Ni personajes, ni las tonterías que hacía el chico para llamar la atención ni que la madre en fin, una categoría menos xd
Profile Image for Evan.
1,072 reviews730 followers
August 12, 2010
If the irrepressible Maude came speeding by in her stolen car and ran me off the road while I was biking, I'm fairly sure I would not give two shits about her heedless bliss and would want her ass locked up.

That scene, like many in the book, seems calculated for cinematic slapstick easy laughs, and it was. Higgins wrote this book in college as a precursor to a screenplay that became a long-beloved cult film.

But here we have a zeitgeist book -- a typically '60s follow-your-bliss wisp about nonconformity, genteel in its rebelliousness rather than attitudinal, as it wants to pretend to be. It's amusing, but its self-conscious morbidities and tastelesness now seem precious rather than edgy. Having old ladies be oh so outre (because, of course, they are supposed to be so prim and proper and half-dead) -- smoking pot, stealing stuff and driving fast and wrecklessly -- is a shooting-fish-in-a-barrel comic trope, a bit obvious.

There are many ponderings of fields of daisies and speeches about building bridges rather than walls. And in case you're not sufficiently moved, the Holocaust is trotted out. Surprisingly there is no cameo by Rod McKuen.

There's a girl named Sunshine and a caricature General who loves Amurika and hates commies. The deck is highly stacked. The sledgehammer stands in for subtlety.

This is one case where, if you've seen the film you probably don't need to read the book, so vividly is it brought to life onscreen and arguably superior in that medium thanks to the inspired casting of the magnificent Ruth Gordon as Maude. The differences in narrative detail are negligible.

This reminds me of other novels where normal people and society are shown to be buffoons, eg., Jerzy Kozinski's Being There, Graham Greene's Travels With My Aunt (the eccentric, cafefree old lady), A Confederacy of Dunces (the hapless cop), Zazie in the Metro (eccentric free spirits), etc.

It's a fun, cute, clever and well structured little novella, and does contain a good deal of indisputable Zen-like wisdom that I agree with, and politically/philosophically I'm all there with it -- and there's age-gap sex, which is always welcome. But the book is geared to an adolescent level, and that's the age at which I probably would have found it most edifying and enjoyable.
Profile Image for Paloma orejuda (Pevima).
504 reviews44 followers
February 4, 2022
Pues... me ha gustado y al mismo tiempo no. La parte de humor se la compro, la parte filosófica no.

**Alerta Spoiler!!

1.-La historia. Harold, un chaval de 19 años obsesionado con sus suicidios, conoce un día en el cementerio a Maud, una anciana de casi 80 años peculiar y alocada (en el mejor sentido de la vida?).

2.-Los personajes. Harold me gustó por su excentricidad. Y Maud por el mismo motivo no. O sea, compro que a él le guste el cementerio y su coche fúnebre y las demoliciones y planear su suicidio, pero Maud es la típica abuela amante de la vida y las pequeñas cosas a la que le trae al pairo la propiedad y las leyes (sobretodo las de trafico) y por eso mismo, no la compro. Es la típica abuela muy consciente para algunas cosas y muy inconsciente para otras. Vamos, un personaje bastante cliché.

3.-La pluma, la trama y demás. Es una historia ágil y corta que se lee muy rápido, pero está contada a modo de único capítulo y hace cambios de escena sin ton ni son, lo que puede hacer que el lector se pierda si no está muy atento.

4.-El final. Bien. Es bastante obvio y al mismo tiempo deja bastantes cosas sin respuesta. Pero supongo que ese es su propósito porque le importa más la parte filosófica y vital.

En fin, 3 estrellas sobre 5 por el humor negro que se gasta y por lo corto que es.

**Popsugar 2022 categoría 15. Un libro de un autor(a) de las islas del Pacífico.

Profile Image for Sana.
338 reviews
November 3, 2018
Blog| Facebook| https://www.instagram.com/gewispertew...

''One laughs. One cries. Two uniquely human traits. And the main thing in life, my dear Harold, is not to be afraid to be human.'' - Maude (p.126)

Der neunzehnjährige Harold hat eine ungewöhnliche Faszination für Tod und Zerstörung. Seine gestellten Selbstmordversuche sind für seine unterkühlte Mutter alltäglich und kaum eine Bemerkung wert. Doch auf einer Beerdigung entdeckt Harold auch jemand anderen, der eigentlich nicht zu der Gruppe an Angehörigen gehört: Die neunundsiebzigjährige Maude, die Schwarz für eine Beerdigung total unangemessen hält und in der Kirche fröhlich vor sich hin plaudert und Lakritz isst. Zwischen den beiden entwickelt sich eine ungewöhnliche Verbindung, die alle Tabus bricht und genau damit die Schönheit des Lebens zeigt.

Die Verfilmung dieses amerikanischen Klassikers hat Kult-Status, und das kommt nicht nur durch das bizarre Pärchen von Harold und Maude an sich zustande, sondern auch, weil diese Geschichte ein wahres Kind seiner Zeit ist. Ende der Sechziger und Anfang der Siebziger Jahre hat die Gesellschaft begonnen, Tabus zu brechen: Frauen durften auf einmal studieren, Diskriminierte setzten sich für die Gleichberechtigung in der Gesellschaft ein, die Anti-Kriegs-Bewegung spitzte sich zu und auch das Thema Sexualität wurde viel offener diskutiert als zuvor.
Und mit genau diesem Wissen kann man Harold und Maude als die Geschichte wertschätzen, die sie versucht zu sein. Denn sowohl der Jugendliche als auch die alte Dame haben es faustdick hinter den Ohren und sind definitiv ungewöhnliche Menschen, die durch ihren skurrilen Charakter viel Humor in die Geschichte bringen. Es ist ein Humor, der nicht jedem Leser liegen wird, denn häufig ist er düster, absurd und lässt einem das Lachen im Halse stecken bleiben. Alleine die Anfangsszene, in der Harold so tut, als würde er sich erhängen, und seine Mutter vollkommen gleichgültig darauf reagiert, ist zum Schreien und wird von vielen ähnlich verschrobenen Situationen gefolgt. Denn genauso wie der Geist während der Zeit, in der diese Geschichte entstand, ist es darauf ausgelegt, möglichst viele Tabuthemen zu brechen, und das mit einer ordentlichen Portion Unangebrachtheit. Harold mit seinem Geltungsdrang, den er in seinen gestellten Selbstmordversuchen ausdrückt, sowie seine Vorliebe für Schrottplätze und Beerdigungen sind genauso gesellschaftlich inakzeptabel wie Maudes ungeniertes Geplaudere während einer Bestattung oder ihre Angewohnheit, sich jeden Tag mit einem anderen geklauten Wagen nach Hause zu fahren. Am Anfang wirkt das regelrecht befremdlich und schafft Distanz zwischen dem Leser und den beiden Hauptfiguren, allerdings ist der Grund dazu doch sehr interessant. Denn wir plädieren so viel für Individualität und freie Entfaltung seiner Person, und dennoch neigen wir dazu, Menschen auszugrenzen, die zu viele Tabus brechen. Die psychisch Kranken, die mit ungewöhnlichen Vorlieben, die, die ihren eigenen Regeln folgen, egal wie sehr man für Gleichberechtigung plädiert, wenn man zu sehr von dem Wort ,,normal'' abweicht, wird man ein sozialer Außenseiter bleiben. Daher bringt das Buch einen dazu, sich selbst zu reflektieren und in Frage zu stellen, warum genau man die Figuren als so abgedreht erlebt. Etwa, weil man selbst gar nicht so offen ist wie man denkt?
Daher sind Harold und Maude keine einfachen Protagonisten. Harold als sehr deprimierter und in sich verschlossener Mensch sowie Maude als eine fast schon manische, schrullige alte Dame sind wirklich speziell und verhalten sich oft sehr zufällig, allerdings ist es genau das, was sie und ihre Dynamik so besonders macht. Vor allem in direkter Gegenüberstellung zu anderen Figuren wie Harolds Mutter, die eine sehr konservative Einstellung hat, fällt auf wie viel Lebensfreude aber auch Einsamkeit es einem verschaffen kann, anders zu sein. Besonders Maudes Art alle Erfahrungen im Leben mitnehmen zu wollen und jeden Tag zu einem Erlebnis zu machen, ungeachtet der Konsequenzen, ist wider aller Normen bewundernswert und wird nicht nur Harold davon überzeugen, es einfach mal zu wagen. Sie wird nämlich nicht nur seine Geliebte, sondern auch Lehrerin, die ihm zeigt, das Leben mit all seinen Sinnen wahrzunehmen und das Erblühen von Leben genauso schön zu finden wie die Zerstörung dessen. Insofern ergänzen sich die beiden in ihrer Skurrilität wirklich gut und haben, auch wenn es aufgrund des Tabus einer Beziehung zwischen zwei Menschen mit so einem Altersunterschied anstößig wirkt, eine wirklich schöne Chemie.
Das Buch wurde zur gleichen Zeit geschrieben wie die gleichnamige Verfilmung, und das macht sich besonders am Schreibstil deutlich. Mit knapp 150 Seiten hat man nicht viel Zeit mit den Figuren und das Gefühl, als hätte Colin Higgins keine wirklichen Übergänge zwischen essenziellen Szenen der Geschichte. Deswegen und weil viele Handlungen von Zufall geprägt sind, wirkt das Buch etwas chaotisch und unklar.
Das Schlimmste daran ist aber immer noch das Ende, über das man selbst nach ein paar Wochen nach Beenden des Buches nicht hinwegkommt. Es wird schon früh in der Geschichte angedeutet, dass es zu diesem Ende kommen könnte, es ist auch gemäß Maudes Lebensphilosophie sogar konsequent, aber es ist und bleibt höllisch gemein gegenüber Harold. Auch hier provoziert der Autor wieder die Wertvorstellungen des Lesers, weswegen es vermutlichen anderen je nach Moralvorstellungen anders gehen wird, doch für mich persönlich ist das, was geschieht, unverzeihlich. Da man schwer die Gründe dafür nennen kann ohne zu spoilern, beschränkt sich die Kritik darauf, dass es Maude herzlos erscheinen lässt und als würde sie in Harold nicht dasselbe sehen wie er in ihr.

Insgesamt ist ein Buch, das alle Tabus seiner und auch der heutigen Zeit bricht, natürlich sehr kontrovers. Auch wenn es zum Teil so wirkt, als hätte der Autor auf Teufel komm raus provozieren wollen, es gelingt ihm sehr gut und vor allem auf wahnsinnig lustige Weise. Für alle Liebhaber des schwarzen oder britischen Humors wären die abstrusen Abenteuer von Harold und Maude bestimmt ein gefundenes Fressen. Doch nicht nur die schrägen Charaktere machen das Buch so erfrischend anders, sondern auch, dass es einen über sich selbst, seine Einstellungen zum Anderssein und Abnormalität und seine eigene Toleranzgrenzen nachdenken lässt. Denn das Plädoyer von Harold und Maude steht ganz klar für die Individualität und dass das Leben mit all seinen Gegensätzen wunderschön ist. Für diejenigen, die ein eher an ein Drehbuch erinnernder Schreibstil nicht stört, und die sich gerne von einem Ende vor den Kopf hauen lassen, wäre es bestimmt ein tolles Leseerlebnis!

Gesamtwertung: 3.75/5.00 Sternen
Profile Image for Garrett Zecker.
Author 8 books51 followers
August 2, 2011
I first experienced the film by reading this book, although my copy came from the first printing when it was actually titled "Share the Joy." This book and the film quickly became one of the most important things in my life, and it actually turned me around a great deal. At first, I was a really bad student in junior high - bad with my grades, bad with girls, bad with taking chances... Everything. After reading this, though, my overall perspective on the world completely changed, and I really started to think about all of the different ways that my not experiencing anything was affecting the way that I was experiencing everything. Now, I am successful and happy and I owe it all to this relatively unheard of book based on a movie by Colin Higgins. It is fantastic if you get a chance to get your hands on it (and actually, worth a lot of money, so keep an eye out!), and I really suggest everyone see this movie and try to understand it and come to grips with their identity and place in this world. We are all here to be happy and to spread love, share the joy, and live with compassion on this earth. The sooner you figure it out, the happier and more complete you will find yourself.
Profile Image for Jackie.
270 reviews14 followers
November 8, 2008
Offbeat. Dark humor. Quirky characters. Morbid.
What's not to like?
I read this as a teenager, sometime in the mid 70s. My tastes were more vaired back then and pretty much picked up any book. I enjoyed it immensely. Centering on death, and ironically, life, it intrigued me.

Harold is a young rich lonely young man obsessed with death. He stages mock suicides to shock his mother, goes to funerals for fun. He meets Maude, an 80 yr. old woman with a Devil-may-care attitude, at a funeral. Thus begins a deep friendship and love. Maude's free-wheeling life, told throughout the story, helps in liberating Harold from his demons and teaches him to live.

An enjoyable reading experience. It is deeper than you realize upon first glance.

Profile Image for Cudeyo.
873 reviews44 followers
January 1, 2022
Un ejemplo perfecto de lo que es el absurdo, el surrealismo, en la literatura. Y más si cabe sabiendo ahora que el autor también hizo guion para una película.

El libro no tiene ni pies ni cabeza, pero es de fácil lectura y de tan raro que es se hace agradable. No es una lectura que hubiera escogido; lo he leído por ser parte de una lectura conjunta. Pero una vez leído me doy cuenta que me deja con sensación de haberlo pasado bien, aunque no tengo ni idea de lo que ha querido decir el autor más que: vive la vida. Un ejemplo del flower power de los años 70.
Profile Image for Jazzy Lemon.
738 reviews91 followers
August 9, 2018
Harold is 19, Maude is 79. What is age other than a number?
Profile Image for Bronwyn.
653 reviews46 followers
December 5, 2022
I’m not a big fan of novelizations, but when I learned Harold and Maude was based on a play and later novelized after the film (and by the screenwriter!), well, I had to read it. It reads like a novelization, but if you’re not familiar with the movie I don’t think you could tell, if somehow that all makes sense. It’s really beautiful and you get some motivations of Harold and Maude that you just can’t get in a movie. Even knowing the ending, I teared up. It’s really well done.
Profile Image for Jason.
230 reviews32 followers
September 7, 2016
Oh for fuck....

Very rarely, in fact I cant recall another example of where i read a book, or whatever, flicked my kindle screen off, and said, "Oh... the movie was so much better..." Like, who says that, right?

For those who dont know about this story...


Harold, psychotic, tortures his mother with his preoccupation of suicide.

His mom is wealthy, in that bloated way that Ivanka Trump acts.

The uncle is some sort of lunatic that, even though Harold's mom pushed him onto the uncle because of 'behavior' (Ie: my son is a raving headcase), a fair amount of synapses have failed to connect, and he's all 'Harold, but war... lovely war... and killing..." psycho, gun, here.

And Maud, whose '80, and waves around world views, all tinged with maturity and wisdom but somehow packaged up in a way that in clinically significant, like padded room stuff.

Harold & Maud, artisans of the macabre, meet at a funeral, a funeral for someone neither of them know. they do this a lot. its like going to starbucks.

Maud, the rambunctious elderly trickster, steals Harold's car, which of course is a hearse. Her personality, on paper, or kindle in this instance, is maddening, which is a stark contrast to Ruth Gordon's amazing efforts. Her mind seems tangled in a rather complex network of failing memories, and there's a sense that she's taking liberties on the ones she remembers, bulldozing them with nonsense.

Harold gets trapped inside her world, much like his obsession with death and suicide. And things escalate to a rather uncomfortable level, a feeling i think may have been mitigated had the author tightened up the manuscript.

His mom tries to set him up with internet dates, which Harold rebuffs with more of his antics. You may be asking yourself, 'wait, his mom sets him up on dates? isnt this like... isnt he an adult?"
Sure, but this is part of the campy factor of the entire thing. This amount of ridiculousness is permissible, and certainly acceptable, but i do wish that the character was less contrived, and that the author detoured from the obvious choices of depicting an affluent character (See: Kitty Montgomery, Darma and Greg).

And his Uncle makes appearances that end up being the essence of every annoying person i've ever met all bundled into one person.

A reviewer here said this is like a directors cut. I get that feeling as well, except for me it's like the director is talking and the movie is off. The book talks to me, but not in a visceral mind-snatching sorta way, but in an actual non-stop, your grandmother visiting you on thanksgiving, sorta way.
I didnt want to be talked to, and have to walk through a mind-field of pacing issues, or stumble over numerous times where a paragraph should have ended, or where a chapter divider should have been. I wanted to be pulled by my nostalgia straps, but all i was left with was a shaking head and a few hours of wasted time.

Profile Image for C.
165 reviews15 followers
September 10, 2014
I know "Harold and Maude" is a very popular movie but I have to admit, I haven't watched it yet. But I read the book last weekend and it was awesome. :)

Story:Young Harold has nothing to do in his life but go to funerals and fake his suicides. When he meets 79-year-old Maude, his life changes completely. She steals cars, poses as a nude model and has an adventurous life. Unfortunately, Harold's mother wants him to get married and already has made plans for Internet dates. Only this is not the life Harold wants to live.

When I started the book and Harold was introduced I knew from the second: I am going to love this book. I have this thing for crazy characters who often are in psychologial treatment, so Harold is the perfect person to read about for me. He is kind of funny with his fake suicides, but in a serious way.
Maude is a woman, I'd like to be when I'm her age. She lives her life and enjoys every minute left of it. She doesn't take things to serious and acts always with a smile on her face.

The book is a small one, more a novella or short story. I flew through the pages and in the beginning it started funny, then it turned adventurous and in the end it handled serious questions abut love and life.
The writing was amusing and entertaining. I would have loved to read more about the characters so it's a pity the story is just that short. But I'll add the movie to my to-be-watched list and hopefully I'll enjoy it as much as the book.

I give 5 of 5 hearses for this story. The characters, the story and the writing were entertaining and pleasant. Definitely a must-read.
Profile Image for Brandon Alan.
39 reviews17 followers
August 27, 2017

"Harold, everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much."

How does one review the book to their favorite movie? It's easy to say "the movie was better" in this case, yet in most all other book made into movie circumstances the opposite is true, but this is Harold and Maude. Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort are iconic and perfect in the leading roles and it was impossible not to imagine their faces as I read the book. Colin Higgins wrote the Harold and Maude screenplay right before writing the novel adaptation so everything is for the most part matched scene for scene. However the book does expand on a few characters (i.e. Glaucus the ice sculpturist) and fills in a few gaps that the movie left up to the viewers imagination. Another movie over book decision that can't be left unsaid is Cat Stevens produced the perfect soundtrack, the song Maude sings at the piano in the book is not nearly as poignant as "If you Want to Sing out". All that being said I can't really keep the book and the movie separate in my mind for the most part.

I was lucky enough to find a great paperback of the novel which I scanned and added for the edition that I'm reviewing but as much as I like this book and all my others..."It's all memorabilia, but incidental and not integral, if you know what I mean."

Profile Image for Zai.
757 reviews98 followers
December 25, 2021
No sé que me esperaba cuando empecé a leer esta novela, pero ni por asomo me esperaba lo que me he encontrado, es una novela rara y bastante absurda hasta que consigues situarte en el contexto de la novela y hacerte a la personalidad de los personajes.

La novela es muy corta, y se lee muy rápido, pero le veo demasiada filosofía para mi gusto, demasiadas frases filosóficas sobre todo por parte de Maude, en referencia a "vivir la vida" y a "aprovecharla al máximo". Aunque ha estado entretenida, y algunas escenas han sido graciosas, no me ha terminado de convencer.
Profile Image for That Weaver Lady.
240 reviews4 followers
November 24, 2015
Seems silly to read this book, especially considering that much of it is a word-for-word textual version of the movie. But hey, I love every word of that movie, so I am not complaining.

Of the parts that were new to me, I felt that they added a lot. They developed the character of Maude so much more in the book - making her less of a manic pixie dream granny and more of a well-developed character who embraced the good parts of life because she had lived through so much of the bad. Also portrayed a lot more of Harold's internal thoughts, feelings, and interests beyond suicide and he felt more complex and interesting because of it.

Also - found out after buying that all the proceeds from this particular edition of the book go to an HIV/Aids charity, which I really appreciated.
Profile Image for Jammin Jenny.
1,356 reviews182 followers
September 25, 2020
I really enjoyed this novelization of the film Harold and Maude. I haven't seen the film in years, but it came rushing back as I was reading the story. I love the love story of Harold (a 20 year old that is fascinated with death) and Maude (a 80 year old that is fascinated with life). A more unlikely pair you couldn't imagine, but they really help each other out. Great story.
Profile Image for charlotte.
46 reviews
February 19, 2022
my mum gave me this book because it’s one of her favorite movies/stories. i haven’t seen the movie, but i did like the book. it was quick and fun to read, very weird, very different and also philosophical. harold and maude are both such special characters, the story didn’t even need much plot to make it interesting. nevertheless, the book also had its problematic moments… but there were a lot of funny, beautiful and memorable moments as well. all in all, i’m glad i read it and can understand why it’s one of my mum’s favorites.
Profile Image for Ivan.
707 reviews15 followers
September 5, 2020
Thoroughly enjoyable and heartfelt. It is pretty much a novelization of the film script - in this case the novel was written by the screenwriter Colin Higgins. I love these characters. These two people found each other at just right moment - each fulfilling a service for the other that allowed them to move forward on life's journey. My story is not the same - and yet elements are similar. I had a couple of Maude's in my life - older and wiser and terrifically generous of spirit - they changed the direction of my life.

I Died 1,000 Times...

When I was a boy I'd do anything for attention - I'd sing, I'd tell jokes, streak bare ass across the backyard on a dare, but what I did most for attention was die. I'd walk into the kitchen and ask ma what was for supper and she'd say "fried farts with garlic" and I'd say "again?" Then I'd feign to go outside or to my bedroom and I'd clutch my chest and fall on the floor dead as a doornail. I'd lay there until one of my sisters would step over me to get to the fridge or set the table for dinner. Sometimes someone would come along and tickle me or say "he's dead, better strip off his clothes and give 'em to the poor." I'd die in the backyard, the front yard, at the park, in the living room, in the bathtub, in the middle of the road. So, you see Harold and I have a connection - true I wasn't rich and didn't have the skills or the imagination to die as theatrically as Harold - but I do feel a kinship.

When did I stop dying for attention? I fell from a tree in front of the house. My mother kinda-sorta saw, but she thought I was playing dead again and kept right on doing the dishes until she saw the man across the street drop everything and run to me - he picked up my limp body and my head rolled toward my mother and the next thing I knew I was in the hospital with a concussion asking mother if grandma and aunt Sue were coming to see me (we were in California and they were in Illinois) - I was in the hospital, I deserved a little attention.

Oh, I died at work once - just to see what people would do. DON'T do that - they freak out. No one tickles you or threatens to give your clothes to the poor when you're a middle aged fat man.
Profile Image for Anna Kay.
1,318 reviews151 followers
May 19, 2015
Ugh. I know this is a classic, and I have a couple friends that absolutely loved it. Maybe it also doesn't help my opinion that I've never seen the movie? Not sure, but for some reason I'm not at all a fan of this one. It was okay, but overall un-inspiring for me personally.

I found it to be kind of similar to Love Story, in the fact that you can totally tell it was written to be a screenplay. It was never written to just be a book and for me personally, that hurt my enjoyment of it. There was no real flesh to the characters and barely any plot happening. And that freaking ending...

Since when is that the freaking answer? Maybe if I had seen the movie, or read this as a teenager, I'd have had more tolerance for the whole "suicide-star-crossed-age-gap-lovers" thing. But get this: I just didn't. She could have just told him, "Hey yo, I'm way too freaking old for you. Find a nice girl your own age and P.S. I'm going off on further adventures." Instead she committs suicide and Harold learns a nice, neat lesson? FUCKING GAG ME.

Profile Image for Andy Deemer.
177 reviews10 followers
August 2, 2012
Absolutely gorgeous. "It's like a director's cut," said Noel, when he loaned me the book. That's exactly what it read like. Ashby kept almost every line as Higgins wrote it, every scene as described, every motion -- EVERY MOTION! Wonderful. But there was more. Did these shots and scenes end up on the cutting room floor? Some of them entirely gone (sad, sad Glaucus -- what an unexpectedly beautiful character he was!), some simply truncated into beautiful but odd and unexplained shots. The novel gave new life to two characters I already knew so well.

My only complaint, and a big one, was the cuckoo song. It wouldn't sit. Not with me. Higgins should have gone back and changed them. Cat Stevens knew how to write a song. Higgins? Not so much.
Profile Image for Mariota.
554 reviews28 followers
December 26, 2021
Este libro pensaba que era de aventuras entre un adolescente y una persona mayor. Me he leído el libro y sí que trata sobre dichas aventuras, pero va más allá. Maude, una persona de 79 años con ganas de vivir la vida y exprimirla al máximo. Y Harold un joven de 19 años que no aprecia la vida, no tiene amigos, no sabe cómo vivirla... Una persona en el final de su vida y otra en el principio. De la vida de Maude no sabemos casi nada sólo hay unas pinceladas y la verdad es que me ha resultado un aperitivo Me hubiera gustado saber un poco más y que se desarrollara más este personaje.
Me he enterado que hay película, intentaré verla...
Profile Image for Rossy Montaño.
328 reviews16 followers
January 29, 2022
He leído por ahí que la peli estaba buena, que el humor esto o aquello, pero creo que este libro no fue para mi, empezando que no le encontré la gracia y luego que encontré situaciones que rayaban en lo absurdo, creo que me esperaba algo diferente.
Profile Image for Stewart Sternberg.
Author 6 books27 followers
February 17, 2020
What a fast read.
It is essentially based on the script with a few little tidbits tossed in. No substitute for the film, but it is nice walking through memory, humming snatches of Cat Stevens, and hearing Bud Cort's and Ruth Gordon's wonderful dialogue.
February 19, 2014
Do you like romantic, humorous books about friendship ? If so, than this book is a fantastic book for you !!
This book is about a young boy called Harold, he lives in a house with his mother in the USA. His live is strangely empty, he doesn’t go to school and his hobbies are going to funerals, visiting junkyards and watching demolition teams knocking down houses. Harold doesn’t love life very much. But….When he meets Maude at a funeral, everything will change. Maude is a almost 80 but looks like a 20 years old woman, Maude is a quite nice, kind and lovely person who has very cool ideas about life. Harold met Maude at a funeral and after that day they wanted to see each other more often. At the next meeting they saw a little tree right in the front of a police officer, they had the feeling that the little tree was all alone by itself, so they thought it was necessary to bring it back to the forest together with the other trees ! So…. They drove to the forest and planted the tree back in the ground and after that they went for a picnic ! At another meeting Maude wanted to see one of his hobbies, so they were watching at the demolitions teams knocking down old, empty houses! They met each other very many times and together they had very exciting, cool and impressive experiences! I’m not going to tell the end of the story but what I can say is that Harold has learned lots of different positive things about life from Maude !
I really liked this book ! It is a book about friendship and crazy, exciting adventures. If you like this kinds of genres too, this is the perfect book for you!
This was my review of the book: Harold and Maude.
Jolien Spaargaren
Profile Image for Emeraldia Ayakashi.
88 reviews49 followers
March 11, 2014
Harold Chasen is a young man of nineteen years from a wealthy family and suffocated by her mother. Countess Mathilda Chardin , called Maude , is an old lady soon eighty years . He likes to stage his suicide, she steals cars . He is fascinated by the destruction of things, she loves life madness.
Both regularly travel to unknown burials. Inevitably they will meet. Thus is born a friendship evolve into something bigger.

The designs of the old woman on life and things, they meet at the back of the church . ...
This book is rather light of its history , and yet it is full of meaning if we better listening Maude . It is a philosophy of life that is presented here , an example and a mentor to listen respectfully .
Each shared moment is a special moment , funny, authentic and engaging, sometimes even poetic .
There is in this book of magic, one that still exists in our time if we look at the existence of a closer , with eyes open to the world and without a priori.

This is the story of a comet named Maude change a young man 's life and teach him a little time the true meaning of life.
"I should like to change into a sunflower most of all. The earth is my body; my head is in the stars."
Profile Image for Lori.
1,389 reviews
July 6, 2016
I would give this a 4.5. I saw the movie many times. just love the movie with Bud Cort,and Ruth Gordon. Just finished reading the novel that became the movie. Harold and Maude is about the friendship between Harold who is about 20 and Maude who is about to turn 80. Harold is obsessed with suicide and dying. Maude is a eccentric old lady, who likes to attend funerals, steals people's cars when she needs to drive and has a unique outlook on life. Both Harold and Maude like to attend funerals of people they do not know. This is how they meet. They start a friendship and hang out over the course of one week. During this time Harold's well to do mother has been trying to fix up her son with dates through a computer dating service, something Harold does not want. Harold does not have friends so Maude is his first. He drives a hearse and thinks of death often even making up fake suicide attempts that look real. This is what you would call a "dark Humor" novel. I found this book very funny and was pleased to see the movie stayed very close to the book. It is from about 1970 and still holds up good today. I like books and movies about "unlikely friendships" and this is a great one.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 219 reviews

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.