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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 129 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.

Review

Lisa Shea Elle [An] impressive debut from a writer who knows how to uncover the saving impulses of the heart.

Lelia Ruckenstein The Washington Post Delightful...This remarkably well-written book will please you with its funny and sad tale of cultural differences, love, betrayal, and motherhood....Introduces a very talented writer of great promise.

Karen Shepard USA Today Beautifully wrought...what people do to each other and the legacies they leave are King's central subjects, and in her deft hands they're explored in complicated, ambitious ways that leave us feeling as if we've become fluent in a foreign language.

Heller McAlpin Newsday Well written, absorbing....She is an accomplished stylist, repeatedly demonstrating a fine control of her complicated structure, which zigzags in time....An altogether pleasing debut.

Publishers Weekly Expertly constructed, full of surprises, superbly paced, and sweetly sad, King's book hardly reads like a first novel.

Booklist With longing and sweetness, this subtle and gorgeously crafted novel takes us into a tangle of family affections...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.

Kirkus Reviews Intriguing...the central character's complexity and many of the descriptive details are pleasing.

Tim Lemire Tab (Boston) A literary first novel of impressive layering and complexity, the kind of debut you might expect from the winner of the Raymond Carver Prize for fiction.

Phillip Lopate Author of Portrait of My Body This is a deft and moving novel, with grace notes and shocks of recognition on every page. Elegant, sensual, and, above all, aware, it offers a stunningly dramatic presentation of ambivalences and reconciliations. You feel wisdom in these sentences, and care for the truth.

Roxana Robinson Author of This Is My Daughter and Summer Light This is a lovely book, elegant and wise, full of illuminations about France, and families, and love. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • File Size : 1165 KB
  • Publication Date : March 22, 2010
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Print Length : 258 pages
  • Publisher : Grove Press (March 22, 2010)
  • Screen Reader : Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • X-Ray : Enabled
  • Language: : English
  • ASIN : B004CFAT0U
  • Lending : Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    3.7 out of 5 stars 129 ratings