Title: Mademoiselle Pearl
Date Read: 10th May 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: While on a visit to a traditional Twelfth Night celebration at his old friend Chantal’s home, the narrator, Gaston, is unexpectedly selected for the title of ‘king’ (it’s a ‘tradition’ thing). Forced to select his ‘queen’ he settles on the Chantal’s housekeeper, Mademoiselle Pearl. Now looking upon Mademoiselle Pearl with a new found curiosity – while at the same time realising that the Chantal’s treat the Mademoiselle as something more than a housekeeper – Gaston questions Chantal about Mlle Pearl’s background.
Afterthoughts: What a wonderful tale from Maupassant, and it’s one which is longer in length giving it more time and space to unfold. It’s a good job that this is a longer tale too, because it has a bit of everything – love, despair, drama, tension. I recommend that you read it, now.
Notable Quote: I began to observe her. How old could she be? Forty? Yes, forty. She was not old, she made herself old. I was suddenly struck by this fact. She fixed her hair and dressed in a ridiculous manner, and, notwithstanding all that, she was not in the least ridiculous, she had such simple, natural gracefulness, veiled and hidden. Truly, what a strange creature! How was it I had never observed her before? She dressed her hair in a grotesque manner with little old maid curls, most absurd; but beneath this one could see a large, calm brow, cut by two deep lines, two wrinkles of long sadness, then two blue eyes, large and tender, so timid, so bashful, so humble, two beautiful eyes which had kept the expression of naive wonder of a young girl, of youthful sensations, and also of sorrow, which had softened without spoiling them.
*Story read as part of my Devouring De Maupassant reading challenge.