Title: The Umbrella
Date Read: 19th April 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: Renowned for her penny pinching ways, Madame Oreille is devastated by her husband’s request for a new umbrella to replace the old and decrepit one which has made him a laughing stock at the Ministry of War. She relents and agrees to her husband’s demand. But if her mood wasn’t made bad enough already because of such an ‘unnecessary’ purchase, then it’s set to become a whole lot worse when her husband returns home with the brolly, after its first day of use.
Afterthoughts: This a fairly standard comedic tale from Maupassant, but it is one which is rather entertaining. The real highlight of the tale is seeing Madame Oreille trying to conquer her inherent shyness towards strangers, in order to save money. I bet you can guess which one of the two Madame’s traits wins through in the end :).
Notable Quote: For two years he had always come to the office with the same old patched umbrella, to the great amusement of his fellow clerks. At last he got tired of their jokes, and insisted upon his wife buying him a new one. She bought one for eight francs and a half, one of those cheap articles which large houses sell as an advertisement. When the men in the office saw the article, which was being sold in Paris by the thousand, they began their jokes again, and Oreille had a dreadful time of it. They even made a song about it, which he heard from morning till night all over the immense building.
*Story read as part of my Devouring De Maupassant reading challenge.