Title: A Day in the Country (also known as A Country Excursion)
Date Read: 8th February 2010
Available Online?: YES (although read for this review was the David Coward translation of the story in A Day in the Country and Other Stories (Oxford University Press)).
Briefly: It’s Madame Dufour’s birthday and the family are heading off on a rare day out in the country to celebrate. Stopping off for a spot of lunch at an attractive inn by the River Seine, plans for the family get together are set to change drastically.
Afterthoughts: OK, so I know my brief synopsis for this story may make it sound a bit gloomy and ominous, but in actual fact this is one of the funniest Maupassant shorts I’ve read to date. Rather caricaturing in its presentation of the story’s main players the tale felt a bit Hal Roach to me, but I’m fine with that because there’s no finer slapstick movie maker in my mind. Despite the fact that A Day in the Country could not be classed as anything but a comedy tale, Maupassant, the genius storyteller that he is, has even managed to squeeze in a few moments of tenderness. What a guy!
Notable Quote: They drove into a large field behind the inn, separated from the river by the towing path, and dismounted. The husband sprang out first and then held out his arms for his wife, and as the step was very high Madame Dufour, in order to reach him, had to show the lower part of her limbs, whose former slenderness had disappeared in fat, and Monsieur Dufour, who was already getting excited by the country air, pinched her calf, and then, taking her in his arms, he set her on the ground, as if she had been some enormous bundle. She shook the dust out of the silk dress and then looked round to see in what sort of a place she was.
*Story read as part of my Devouring De Maupassant reading challenge.