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Private Property Paperback – November, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 178 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (November 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803234805
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803234802
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,964,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Small of scale does not mean small of consequence. That goes for the diminutive Tiffany as well as Private Property itself. Those moments that look so tiny, those school humiliations and emotional kicks at home, continue to shape us into adulthood. Constant's portrait of a little girl lost, someone who would be happier to camouflage herself in the furniture than to take the spotlight, will loom large in the mind."—Jessa Crispin, NPR Books
(Jessa Crispin NPR Books 20111009)

"Immersed in the sights and sounds of its gardens, farm animals, local peasants, and provincial surroundings, readers will feel as if they've taken a heady trip to France."—Reba Leiding, Library Journal
(Reba Leiding Library Journal 20110901)

"Paule Constant writes beautiful prose. She does not waste words. She can make a small moment loom as large as it does in real experience. She is at her best in crafting memorable images with a single sentence. This is the kind of book best savored rather than gulped."—Ruth Huizenga Everhart, Englewood Review of Books
(Ruth Huizenga Everhart Englewood Review of Books 20111216)

“This translation carefully preserves the style of Constant’s breathtakingly beautiful prose. . . . By sensitively tracing for English readers the hauntingly painful and isolated world of Tiffany . . . Miller and Grenaudier-Klijn have made Private Property a must read.”—Eileen M. Angelini, author of Strategies of “Writing the Self” in the French Modern Novel: C’est moi, je crois
(Eileen M. Angelini 20110222)

About the Author

Paule Constant is the author of seven novels, including The Governor's Daughter (Nebraska 1998), which was a finalist for the Prix Goncourt in 1994.
Betsy Wing's translations include The Governor's Daughter, Hélène Cixous's The Book of Promethea, and Edouard Glissant's The Fourth Century (all available from the University of Nebraska Press).
Margot Miller teaches French at the University of Maryland.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kim Randall Cox on September 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
When I was nine years old, my mother cleaned her closet, culling her wardrobe in the process. Mama is a tiny woman and weighed barely a hundred pounds at the time. Me, well, I'm not so tiny. My father is 6 feet, 2 inches tall, a big-boned farmer with a thick, strong body. I'm somewhere in between. I'm sure they were probably still too big, especially through the chest, but I selected several of my mother's old shirts to add to my own closet. My favorite was a navy blue cotton number with three-quarter sleeves, a Peter Pan collar, and a row of shiny blue buttons up the front.

I wore it to school soon after. I remember almost nothing at all about that day. It was neither warm nor cool, although I do remember it was sunny. It must have been after lunch because my nearly fatal embarrassment took place as we filed out the front door, across the large expanse of cement in front of the school building and down the sidewalk to the playground in back. I heard a laugh, then another, and what I can only describe as a guffaw. I realized almost immediately the laughing was directed at me. I felt air across my chest, and to my infinite horror, when I looked down I saw skin. Bare skin. My blouse was losing buttons.

We've all felt exposed, whether literally or figuratively, and such exposure in childhood is devastating in the moment. It's humiliating and often lasting. Paule Constant's novel, PRIVATE PROPERTY, describes moments such as these over and over in the life of little Tiffany Murano. From the second of her arrival at the Catholic girls' school in southwestern France, nine-year-old Tiffany feels miserable and out of place. She misses her parents, French expatriates still living in Africa.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By las cosas on November 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
Warning! This is a very female book and I think it is improbable that more than a small number of male readers will find any enjoyment in this book. Me? I'm female, but found the writing cloying, precious and dull. But I passed on my copy to a friend and as I expected, she loved it. It is simply way of a type.

Tiffany is our main character. Parents are in the African colonies (this is France in probably the late 1950s), and she has been sent to a 'nice' girl's Catholic boarding school near her grandparents in France. She is both tiny and very young and has been thrown into a world of weirdo nuns (is there any other kind?) and fellow students who are snobs, bores and torturers. And our Tiffany? Sssssooooo sensitive, sad and misunderstood. And no one appreciates her except her beloved grandmother who, as usual for such books, is dying. Slowly. With Tiffany spending as much time as possible simply sitting in the same room with her. That's all she needs, just to be close. And whimper silently.

Well, you've been warned. Tiffany is an Edward Gorey character. She will die of ennui, or a large urn will drop on her while in the garden. Something pathetic and oh so sad.
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