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The House in Paris (1935)

por Elizabeth Bowen

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7831821,297 (3.7)131
One of Elizabeth Bowen's most artful and psychologically acute novels, The House in Paris is a timeless masterpiece of nuance and atmosphere, and represents the very best of Bowen's celebrated oeuvre. When eleven-year-old Henrietta arrives at the Fishers' well-appointed house in Paris, she is prepared to spend her day between trains looked after by an old friend of her grandmother's. Henrietta longs to see a few sights in the foreign city; little does she know what fascinating secrets the Fisher house itself contains. For Henrietta finds that her visit coincides with that of Leopold, an intense child who has come to Paris to be introduced to the mother he has never known. In the course of a single day, the relations between Leopold, Henrietta's agitated hostess Naomi Fisher, Leopold' s mysterious mother, his dead father, and the dying matriarch in bed upstairs, come to light slowly and tantalizingly. And when Henrietta leaves the house that evening, it is in possession of the kind of grave knowledge usually reserved only for adults.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 18 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
"Meetings that do not come off keep a character of their own."

The first word people have used to describe for me Elizabeth Bowen's writing is often "difficult". I now see they are wrong. Where some minds find difficulty, those of us with clearer vision see rare intelligence. Bowen was a younger member of the Bloomsbury Group, often defined as a generational link between Virginia Woolf and Muriel Spark. She toys with the fragmented modernism of the former, while sinking her teeth into the detached British realism of the latter. It is the frisson of this combination that gives her work its unique voice.

The House in Paris takes place over one day, as 11-year-old Henrietta and 9-year-old Leopold pass through the home of Miss Naomi Fisher and her ailing mother. The children do not know each other; the orphaned Henrietta is en route to visit her grandmother, and needs a place to stop, while Leopold is to meet his mother for the first time today, after having been raised by family friends in Italy. Both children's unusual circumstances are joined by their respective mothers' friendships with Miss Fisher. In the repressive atmosphere of the house, secrets unfold amongst these four unnerved characters and their ultimate guest.

Bowen's style is perhaps best described as "detached", somewhere on that mid-20th century spectrum of writers whom I adore so, whose characters are financially "comfortable" but often on a downward trajectory, and whose speech - clipped yet romantic - invites the reader to fill in the silences. If you have tasted the sweet delights of Murdoch and Durrell, of Penelope Fitzgerald and Barbara Pym, seek comfort here. If your preferences lean in the other direction, Bowen may not be for you! Says one of the characters: "I cannot live in a love affair, I am busy and grasping. I am not English; you know I am nervous the whole time. I could not endure being conscious of anyone. Naomi is like furniture or the dark. I should pity myself if I did not marry her."

"The Present" takes up about half of this short novel, but the meat of Bowen's story is in the central section, "The Past". The true details of Naomi Fisher's youth, of Leopold's provenance, of Madame Fisher in her prime, are interspersed in the details of a love affair as delicate as a hothouse flower. Bowen tears at the fragile stitches of these characters, revealing flesh that is bruised and sore. The content of the book - and, in truth, sometimes its individual moments - could be found in a lesser soft romance novel of the period. But Bowen's prose refuses to be cowed. She slips between tenses, surprises us with changes in narrative voice and tone, and generally keeps the atmosphere on the thinnest ice.

Unsettling, but beautiful. ( )
  therebelprince | Jun 24, 2021 |
There are several beautiful passages in the book. The use of oxymorons in the description of atmosphere helps to bring scenes out beautifully. And the way the plot unfolds, you wonder who Leopold is. However, I am not sure what the story is really about. And the characters are almost all unlikeable, like the sly and plotting Mrs Fisher, nervy Ms Fisher, and arrogant Leopold. ( )
  siok | Feb 2, 2020 |
Jeg er meget begejstret for Bowens roman fra 1935, og det er der mange gode grunde til: Fine psykologiske portrætter, dramatisk kærlighed og voldsomme følelser lige under overfladen. Og så har jeg sjældent læst en så velkomponeret roman, altså en bog hvor form og indhold går så lydefrit op, og hvor den stringente komposition på ingen måde skygger for at folde plot og fremdrift ud.

Romanen består af tre dele: nutiden, fortiden, nutiden. Det minder altså om dannelsesromanens traditionelle opbygning, blot forskubbes handlingen i tid og ikke i rum. I starten følger vi den 11-årige Henrietta til huset i Paris. Hun har mistet sin mor og skal nu på ferie hos bedstemoren i Sydfrankrig. Der er sørget for følgeskab fra London til Paris og fra Paris til Nice - men imellem de to punkter ligger en dag, som hun skal tilbringe hos frøken Fisher og hendes sengeliggende mor.

Da hun kommer til huset, viser det sig, at hun ikke er den eneste gæst. Drengen Leopold er der nemlig også. Han er ni år og bor hos en plejefamilie i Norditalien, og nu skal han for første gang møde sin mor, der gav ham fra sig som lille. Det er i hvert fald planen, for noget kommer i vejen og mens timerne tikker af sted, er børnene overladt til sig selv. Selvom de voksne beder Henrietta holde sig fra det kildne spørgsmål om Leopolds forældre, så kender Bowen børn godt nok til at vide, at det selvfølgelig bliver omdrejningspunktet. Han er dybt optaget af mødet, som han både frygter og knytter alle sine fremtidshåb til.

Anden del er historien om, hvordan Leopolds forældre mødte hinanden ti år tidligere. Karen er i starten af 20’erne og forlovet med den reelle men også lidt kedelige Ray. Han er sendt på en opgave til imperiets østlige provinser, mens hun tager til Irland for at besøge en kær tante og for at få tiden til at gå. Desværre er tanten alvorligt syg, og Karen rejser tidligere tilbage til London, hvor møder hun frk. Fisher og HENDES forlovede, Matt. Karen kender ham fra sit ophold hos Fishers i Paris, hvor han hyppigt kom for at besøge moderen, og hvor hun slet ikke vidste, hvordan hun skulle omgås ham.

En tilfældig berøring, et blik i et overfyldt tog inden de siger farvel. Der sker ingenting, og alligevel tænder det en uimodståelig trang i dem begge. De ved godt, at de er på vej ud, hvor de ikke kan bunde, og de kan ikke lade være. I starten er de vel knap nok bevidste om, at kærligheden uundgåeligt vil påvirke deres planlagte ægteskaber. Det ved læseren til gengæld, for Leopold sidder jo i Paris ti år senere og venter på sin mor.

I tredje del er vi tilbage i nutiden og Fishers hus. Det er eftermiddag, og Henrietta og Leopold venter stadig. Hun har så småt opgivet håbet om at få Paris at se inden toget ruller hende sydpå, han ved vel knap nok, hvad der skal ske med ham. Men da han besøger fru Fisher i sygeværelset får han alligevel lidt mere at vide om sin fortid. Måske fortsætter hun det rænkespil, der også spillede en eller anden rolle for Matt og Karens forhold, måske er hun bare så gammel, at hun er ligeglad. Og så, da Henrietta skal afsted, kommer en uventet gæst på besøg.

Romanen cirkler indsigtsfuldt om forholdet mellem børn og voksne, om kærlighedens svære kår, om fejltagelser og forsøget på at gøre dem gode igen. The House in Paris var min første Bowen. Det bliver ikke den sidste! ( )
  Henrik_Madsen | Mar 2, 2019 |
Eleven year old Henrietta, quite precocious for her age, has recently lost her mother. She's being escorted by various acquaintances of her family to the south of France to live with her grandmother. It's been arranged for her to stay with a friend of her mother's in Paris for a day while waiting for the next leg of the journey. She hope to see a few sights during her layover.

Instead, she finds an elderly autocratic dying woman, her devoted spinster daughter and a boy named Leopold who is also spending the day at the house waiting.

Leopold has never met his mother. He knows only that the circumstances of his birth are mysterious and that he has been adopted by a couple in Italy. His birth mother has summoned him to Paris to meet her, and to Leopold this is a dream come true.

Events unfold with a long middle section flashback where we discover the story of Leopold and then to a final section where Leopold's story continues.

The writing is lush. The characters are intricately drawn and well realized. I thought the ending was superb. It's one of those that leaves you wondering: Is this a happy ending? What happened next? ( )
1 vote streamsong | Feb 7, 2017 |
Henrietta (age 11) and Leopold (age 9) meet in the Paris home of Naomi Fisher. Henrietta is passing through on the way to her grandmother's in the south of France, and Naomi is providing a place for her to spend the time between trains. Leopold has arrived in Paris to meet his mother for the first time.

Hmm ... what's that? This premise pulled me in right away. And if that weren't enough, there's something a bit mysterious about Naomi and her elderly, bedridden mother. Suddenly the narrative shifts from the present to the past and the back story takes shape. To say more might spoil this novel for other readers, so let's just say that after about 150 pages the narrative jumps back to the present, providing a fresh point of view on all of the characters. But the central conflict still remains, and Bowen guides us to a conclusion that is very satisfying despite ending on somewhat of a cliffhanger. ( )
2 vote lauralkeet | Jan 29, 2017 |
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Byatt, A. S.Introduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Ruschmeier, SigridÜbersetzerautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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In a taxi skidding away from the Gare du Nord, one dark greasy February morning before the shutters were down, Henrietta sat beside Miss Fisher.
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One of Elizabeth Bowen's most artful and psychologically acute novels, The House in Paris is a timeless masterpiece of nuance and atmosphere, and represents the very best of Bowen's celebrated oeuvre. When eleven-year-old Henrietta arrives at the Fishers' well-appointed house in Paris, she is prepared to spend her day between trains looked after by an old friend of her grandmother's. Henrietta longs to see a few sights in the foreign city; little does she know what fascinating secrets the Fisher house itself contains. For Henrietta finds that her visit coincides with that of Leopold, an intense child who has come to Paris to be introduced to the mother he has never known. In the course of a single day, the relations between Leopold, Henrietta's agitated hostess Naomi Fisher, Leopold' s mysterious mother, his dead father, and the dying matriarch in bed upstairs, come to light slowly and tantalizingly. And when Henrietta leaves the house that evening, it is in possession of the kind of grave knowledge usually reserved only for adults.

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