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The Girl at the Lion d'Or (original 1989; edition 1999)

by Sebastian Faulks

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8631410,340 (3.36)40
Member:3tms
Title:The Girl at the Lion d'Or
Authors:Sebastian Faulks
Info:Vintage (1999), Edition: (2nd), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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The girl at the Lion d'Or by Sebastian Faulks (1989)

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Quite honestly Faulks' The Girl at the Lion d'Or certainly didn't have priority out of all of the titles in our mini-library at home, it probably didn't even have a spot on Mount TBR yet I caved in to its small size and the promise of easy-reading after June's Bulgakov marathon. I read Birdsong last year and, although it hardly changed my life, it is immensely readable and provides us with a very important, if fictional, account of life during World War I. The Girl at the Lion d'Or, as part of Faulks' 'France Trilogy' therefore promised something I could dip into with ease. (Charlotte Grey, however, is another matter entirely...)

Faulks focuses on the life of waitress at the Hotel du Lion d'Or; Anne Louvert, at first glance your typical girl next door but, in reality, a lonely young woman with a dark mystery that seriously hampers her struggle to maintain a tranquil, anonymous existence. Throw in a cast of intriguing French characters and a married lover; Charles Hartmann and we have a neat circular story that, without blowing me away, was a pleasant, speedy read to pick up whilst sheltering from the monsoon-like Manchester weather.

Despite the huge shadow of WWI that permeates this novel; i.e. Anne's Father and Hartmann's (who also appears in Birdsong) war experience, I unfortunately found myself feeling a little indifferent about the story and a fair few of the two-dimensional characters' within it. Even Anne, whose endearing normality and calm acceptance of her precarious existence can be so attractive, does irritate at times and I found myself being fairly unsympathetic towards the adulterous relationship between her and Charles that literally seems to spring up out of nowhere at the beginning of the novel.

Slight superficiality aside, Faulks clearly has a firm grasp on this period of history and it is undoubtedly interesting to explore the lives of those living in the wake of the devastation of the war and the then glorious decade that followed. Those living in the 1930s, anticipating further conflict yet mindful of the dark past are an intriguing lot to be introduced to and Faulks' domestic, occasionally more intimate portraits of these people suit the anxious times perfectly.

Not Faulks' best work but a nice little break and, since Anne hails from Paris, another little tick for my 'Paris en Juillet.'

P.S: Alex (in Leeds) did make me giggle when she told me that she read this novel whilst looking after a sick friend since it was, by the sounds of things, the only book without a cheesy looking lilac cover in the vicinity....

I think that probably sums the novel up, nice, but nothing to write home about....

http://relishreads.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/the-girl-at-lion-dor.html ( )
  Lucy_Rock | Jul 23, 2012 |
A young girl, Anne, arrives to take up a position at the hotel, Lion d'Or. Gradually she begins to feel at ease among the locals and becomes drawn to Monsieur Harmann, a lawyer in the village. She eventually confides her past to him, recognising him as someone she can trust. But this trust, makes M. Hartmann feel guilty for his own security and brings with it the realisation that he cannot provide her with what she needs.
This is a love story set in the years between the wars, in a politically unstable France.
The characters a well drawn, their attraction to each other palpable and there is a sense of inevitability at their situation. well written but not as masterful as Birdsong. ( )
  HelenBaker | Jun 20, 2012 |
A beautifully written love story set in the small town of Jainvilliers in 1935-36 against a background of political upheaval as M Blum's government stumbles from crisis to crisis while Hitler's Germany reoccupies the Rhineland.
The principal characters are Anne, a beautiful young woman fleeing a tragic past and Charles Hartmann, a successful and married advocate and landowner. The novel opens with Anne arriving by train from Paris to take up a position as waitress at the Lion d'Or Inn in Jainvilliers. The bizarre and menacing concierge, Mme Bouin, tersely welcomes her and issues an extensive list of house rules and duties, and Anne is pitched in at the deep end.
She meets Charles Hartmann early on and is almost immediately besotted. He reciprocates her feelings, though perhaps less suddenly, and their tentative relationship commences.
Faulks captures the barrenness of a Anne's day to day routine marvellously, making the reader feel the tedium of her daily chores and the long periods of boredom attendant upon waiting tables in a small provincial inn. Hartmann takes her away from that, but only for brief periods - after all, he is married and anxious to avoid scandal within a small town.
However, Anne does come to trust Hartmann and reveals dreadful secrets from her past.
A thoroughly engrossing and engaging novel. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Apr 24, 2012 |
Whew! I finally managed to finish a work of actual literary fiction, after a glut of mysteries and other escapist fare. Readers nostalgic for the tone and sensibility of Flaubert should find this slim, but rich novel to their liking. ( )
  booksinthebelfrey | Apr 10, 2012 |
Such a good writer. Set completely in France it follows the a period in the life of a young girl with a tragic past. ( )
  cbinstead | Nov 12, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sebastian Faulksprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
West, SamuelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my mother and father.
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The French newspapers in the 1930s offered a mixture of rumour, spite and inaccuracy.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375704531, Paperback)

At the outset of Sebastian Faulks's The Girl at the Lion d'Or, lovely, abandoned Anne Louvet seems almost willing to retreat into the anonymous routines of her waitressing duties--until she meets Charles Hartmann. He, trapped in a loveless marriage and feeling increasingly adrift more than a decade after serving in the Great War, is as enchanted by Anne's vulnerability as she is by his tender, almost paternal attentions. Their affair, and the cruel paradox of seeking a clandestine sufficiency, allow Faulks to pit the demands of desire against the necessities of duty, a task he pursues with tireless charm.

When Anne first arrives at the Hotel du Lion d'Or in the French town of Janvilliers, it is with the dual hope of escaping an unhappy past and discovering some degree of happiness. Undeniably beautiful and just bold enough to prod her own fate, she sees in the wealthy and restless Hartmann a soul that might redeem her own. "How was it possible, she wondered, to be awed by someone and yet to feel protective towards him too?" For his part, Hartmann senses in her the woman who, finally, might satisfy his need to offer refuge.

The secret of Anne's past, which she fears will drive Hartmann from her, conspires along with his gnawing uncertainty about her ultimate contentment to place their romance at a crossroads. Faulks, with deft restraint, never allows matters to lapse into the maudlin. Assessing the apparent inappropriateness of his love for Anne, Hartmann reflects that "there was something wrong ... in a society that could think of such generous feelings as unacceptable." Faulks's own generosity illuminates each page. --Ben Guterson

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:49 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A young woman takes a job as a waitress in a provincial town in 1930s France. A married man from a nearby chateau falls in love with her. They go away together and an ill-starred affair follows.

(summary from another edition)

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