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The Pleasing Hour: A Novel by [Lily King]
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The Pleasing Hour: A Novel Kindle Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 113 ratings

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Length: 258 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The act of writing a first novel has a lot in common with being an au pair. Each is often accomplished by a young, overeducated woman who believes she is the center of the universe. This can make for dull reading, and sometimes for unattended children falling down staircases. But Lily King's fine first novel--about an au pair--neatly avoids the solipsism that often plagues coming-of-age stories. In The Pleasing Hour, 19-year-old Rosie has fled New Hampshire for France after undergoing an anguishing loss: she surrendered her newborn son to her infertile, married sister. Rosie is literally hollowed out, unable to see beyond her own pain. "Nothing in my body felt right. It seemed to be ringing with pain but there was no part of me that I could point to and tell her, Here, here's where it hurts."

In Paris she moves in with the Tivots: the unassuming, shambling father, Marc; the glamorous and unforgiving mother, Nicole; the beautiful daughter, Odile; the merry daughter, Lola; the momma's boy, Guillaume. Rosie steps into the highly polarized atmosphere of the Tivot household, unconsciously upsetting its equilibrium by throwing in her lot with Marc and Lola. And when the family heads off to Spain for vacation, the power balance shifts palpably, since Rosie is the only one who speaks Spanish. Even Nicole grudgingly admires her. What's more, Rosie notices Marc regarding her with the "relentless curiosity he'd had in his eye since we landed in Spain." On Mallorca, the two consummate their relationship, and the betrayal forces her to see beyond her own worries to the entrenched pains and allegiances of her host family.

King cleverly iterates this message in her narrative. She occasionally, deliberately, allows each member of the Tivot family to voice the story, and this opening-up of the narrative allows the world to flow into a novel whose themes might otherwise seem petty. In the end, the author doesn't perpetrate the dull crime of youthful self-involvement--she comments on it. We care for Rosie from the start, but we like her a lot more as she comes alive to the people around her. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

With longing and sweetness, this subtle and gorgeously crafted novel takes us into a tangle of family affections. The story is an old one: Rosie, an American au pair on a Paris houseboat, falls in love first with the children she helps care for and then with their father, Marc. Their mother, Nicole, is as edgy, hard-faceted, and lovely as a diamond. As we travel the year with this family, all is revealed: Rosie's giving up the child she deliberately conceived to her cherished sister, who cannot have children; Nicole's history in a place called Plaire, where a situation similar to Rosie's shaped her and her own mother forever. The three children spring to exuberant life: little Guillaume, with his faith and his fears; Lola, who loves Rosie at once; and Odile, patterning her mother and pushing against her. Above all, there is Marc, who wants his wife to love him and finds a way to that through Rosie. It is in Plaire that both Rosie and Nicole find a resolution of sorts with their pasts and with each other. The play of French against American, of fresh hurts against old but still aching ones, of lovers and mothers, is gently woven in language of great purity. GraceAnne A. DeCandido --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5
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