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The Pleasing Hour Paperback – March 23, 2010
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Delightful . . . [This] remarkably well-written book . . . introduces a very talented writer of great promise.”The Washington Post Book World
Written with quiet, lyric forcefulness . . . An impressive debut from a writer who knows how to uncover the saving impulses of the heart.”Elle
A rich first novel about families lost and found from a promising writer with an ear for language from the heart, that touches deeply.”The Christian Science Monitor
King can brushes lush descriptions, with majestic colors and vivid, fleeting pleasures.” The Seattle Times
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.”USA Today
Brace yourselfThe Pleasing Hour is an intense novel, full of secrets and complicated situations.”Seventeen
Here, as with a palimpsest, each new form of pleasing delineated by the author is made more complex by the imprint of the last.”The New Yorker
King brings alive a palette of colorful and robust characters that might have been collected from an afternoon sidewalk café in Provence. . . . This is a rich first novel about families lost and found from a promising writer with an ear for the kind of languagelanguage from the heart, that touches deeply.” The Christian Science Monitor
King’s economy with detail is perfectly calibrated to the tension created by Rosie’s language deficit, cultural discomfort, and emotional isolation. . . . Though she tells lean stories, King can brush lush descriptions, with majestic colors and vivid, fleeting pleasures.”The Seattle Times
Well written, absorbing . . . [King] is an accomplished stylist, repeatedly demonstrating a fine control of her complicated structure. . . . An altogether pleasing debut.”Newsday
The Pleasing Hour is a beautiful, sad novel that leaves a lasting impression.”New Woman
King delivers an emotionally suspenseful story in language nearly as exquisite as the setting itself . . . The Pleasing Hour, like all intersections at which lives converge, belongs to more than one personbut ultimately it is Rosie whose emotional evolution we celebrate, and with it the arrival of Lily King to the world of bright new literary voices.”Ploughshares
In gentle, elegant prose, first novelist King . . . has taken some unusual elements and worked them into a believable, beautifully etched tale of people who, scarred by their past, are now trying to get it right.”Library Journal
Expertly constructed, full of surprises, superbly paced, and sweetly sad, King’s book hardly reads like a first novel . . . the seamless integration of theme, plot and voice produces a rare sense of intimacy.”Publishers Weekly
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.”Booklist
Intriguing the central character’s complexity and many of the descriptive details are pleasing.”Kirkus Reviews
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.” Phillip Lopate, author of Portrait of My Body
This is a lovely book, elegant and wise, full of illuminations about France, and families, and love.” Roxana Robinson, author of This Is My Daughter and Summer Light
Lily King has written a luminous first novel. Her psychology is original and subtle, her mise en scene perfect, her deft and lovely language and gentle humor irresistible. The Pleasing Hour is a find, and a joy.” Beth Gutcheon, author of Saying Grace and Five Fortunes
In this lovely, subtle debut novel, Lily King writes with delicacy and wisdom of inner and outer lives, of exclusion, loneliness, and survival. The music of her writing is a deliciousness in itself. She sees with a rare discernment, an insight as profound and surprising as it is graceful and forgiving, and understands the complex structures invented by the will to love. In The Pleasing Hour, she imbues love’s insistent formsits misbegotten, maternal, and romantic powerswith a poignancy that enchants.” Alice Fulton, author of Sensual Math
About the Author
- Publisher : Grove Press (March 23, 2010)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0802143741
- ISBN-13 : 978-0802143747
- Lexile measure : 910L
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.75 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #119,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Not long before she arrived, Rosie had a child, and gave him up to the older sister who basically raised her. She's still working through that experience when she comes into the Trivot household, where the glossy surface conceals plenty of problems underneath: haughty Nicole and sheepish Marc are disconnected, and the kids each have their own struggles. Rosie becomes more integrated into their lives, finding some sense of security, before a trip to Spain unsettles everything.
One of the major themes of the book, and one that really resonated with me, is language: the power of fluency and the way it can both bring people together when it's shared and isolate them when it's not. Rosie arrives speaking poor French, setting her apart from the family, and even as her proficiency increases to the point where she feels comfortable speaking it in most situations and to everyone else in the household, she fears Nicole's ability to make her feel wrong. Nicole herself tries to bury the Provencal accent that marks her as a non-native Parisian. And the way Rosie sees herself and is seen by the Trivots shifts when they go to Spain and she has the most command of Spanish. Anyone who's ever tried to learn a language, or gone someplace where they didn't speak the primary one well, knows how isolating it can be when you don't understand it, how frustrating it can be to sort-of understand, but be unable to clearly make yourself understood, the thrill of being able to communicate.
While I found that particular thematic element of the book compelling, as a whole I'll admit it was just okay for me. It is a debut, and though it's the promising kind (King's prose is strong, and she shows flashes of brilliance of characterization), it doesn't seem quite sure of what exactly it's trying to say or do as a whole. We get in-depth looks at the family's children, and go back in time to learn about Nicole's parents and childhood, but get no insight into her as an adult or into Marc at all. The plot meanders, and important threads of narrative, like Rosie's emotional processing of her pregnancy and surrender of her child, didn't feel like they went anywhere. It's not a bad book by any stretch of the imagination, but it's not particularly good either. If what you've read makes you interested, you won't be wasting your time in picking up the book, but you won't really be missing out on anything if you don't.
The dynamic of Rosie's and Marc's relationship was described amazingly and painfully well, even as Rosie came to understand what Nicole found objectionable in Marc. Rosie's discomfort and awkwardness were conveyed so well I was actually cringing during certain passages.
The only aspects I had trouble wrapping my mind around were how, since the Tivots got a new au pair every year, they were all so quick to open to, trust, and become attached to Rosie. The speed and ease of the transition from Paris to Plaire was also a little hard to fit into the relationship between Rosie and Nicole.
I appreciated how the story began and ended in Plaire, and the overall smoothness of that arc.
This is my second Lily King novel, having begun with "Euphoria". I plan to read everything she's written -- truly a gifted writer.
King's writing is bursting with color and primed with passion, it sweeps you off your feet with its many convoluted evocative nuances. The simple story of Rosie, the au pair with a tragic past, has so many angles it's as if it's reflected from a prism. The concept of a young woman perhaps being lead by her nose into guilt, or perhaps creating her own guilt is explored with such subtlety that it comes a a surprise to realize that this is really the theme of the novel. This kind of writing is rare, this type of author a 'one-in-a-generation' species. Not since I first read John Fowles have I been so deeply affected by the written word. The questions posed (without giving the plot away) : Did they plan it, had they done it before?