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The Girl at the Lion d'Or by Sebastian…

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

by Sebastian Faulks

Series: French Trilogy (1)

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1,0531813,866 (3.41)46
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.
Title:The Girl at the Lion d'Or
Authors:Sebastian Faulks
Info:Vintage (1999), Edition: aFirst Edition First Printing, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:60 Book Challenge 2014

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The Girl at the Lion d'Or by Sebastian Faulks (1989)


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» See also 46 mentions

English (17)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Girl meets boy in the aftermath of the war.

You know which war.

Boy is actually an older married man.

Unhappily married, of course.

Girl and unhappily married man begin an affair.

Girl reveals a terrible family secret from the war.

Older married man ends the affair.

British author recycles these cliches.

The cliches gain a certain sheen because the setting is France.

I am partial to French settings.

Still, the whole thing is one big cliche.

With a French setting.

So cliche. ( )
  vernaye | May 23, 2020 |
"What if all our lives are just a circle where at a certain point you cross an unseen tripwire that sets spinning the same process again?"

One rainy night young Anne Louvet arrives by train in the provincial French city Janvilliers to take up the post of waitress at the city's Lion d'Or. Anne is attractive and intelligent but there is a sense of mystery in her background as we learn early on the Louvet is not her real surname. Arriving in the city not knowing anybody Anne soon finds herself courted by local architect and playboy Andre Mattlin but instead finds herself attracted to married lawyer Charles Hartmann. Charles lives in an old mansion, which he is hoping to renovate, on the outskirts of the city with his barren and unhappy wife Christine. Charles reciprocates Anne's interest and takes her away for a weekend at the country house of an old friend. Once there their relationship turns sexual and Anne tells Charles the secret of her tragic life thus far in which she has been subjected to hardship and abandonment.

Charles feels himself torn by his love for Anne and the sympathy for her tumultuous up-bringing and the duty he feels towards his wife. Someone is going to be face devastation but will it be Anne or Christine?

Set in the 1930's the country is still struggling to overcome the physical and political scars of WWI and the rise of the Nazi party in Germany all add to the anxiety especially as the despicable Mattlin points out Charles is partly Jewish. The weakness of France’s governments; and the true horror of Anne’s girlhood secret all blend into a powerful story.

In truth there is not an awful lot of action rather this book concentrates on character development. It would be easy to feel sorry for Anne and that Charles has abused his position and wealth to take advantage of her loneliness but instead we end up almost palpably feeling Charles struggles with his conscience, he must decide between love,pity and duty. Any fan of John Fowles 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' will almost certainly also enjoy this as each contain certain obvious parallels.
This wasn't my favourite of Faulk's works that I've read but is a well crafted and touching read all the same. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Feb 16, 2019 |
I have to agree with the Sunday Times' review; it is "extraordinary (and unexpectedly) moving" at the end. ( )
  siok | Feb 4, 2017 |
An easy and enjoyable read. A love story plus a very interesting depiction of the political milieu of pre-WWII France, but with several flaws. I found the characters a bit unconvincing and their motivations false, e.g. Hartmann (a married man) takes Anne (a poor waitress) away on a weekend out of the "kindness of his heart" -- come on! There were also some undeveloped lines in the story, such as the allusions to Hartmann's Jewish grandfather by one of his supposed friends that never goes anywhere. ( )
  amaraki | Jun 12, 2016 |
This is a lovely little novel. It's a love story with a basic Cinderella set-up, starring Mme Bouin as the evil step-mother and the Patron as the Fairy Godmother. Very simply and intelligently told with little flourishes and cross-correspondences of meaning. I particularly enjoyed the metaphor of the cellar being built with what is happening to Anne. ( )
  Lukerik | Sep 11, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sebastian Faulksprimary authorall editionscalculated
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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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.

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