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The House in Paris

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  1,237 Ratings  ·  183 Reviews
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 tha
Published November 4th 2011 by Audible, Inc. (first published 1935)
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Community Reviews

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Jul 22, 2007 Ryan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mebbe_later
I tried, man, I really tried to get through this fucking thing. Got about 3/4 and my friend asked what it was about. I told her, and she said, "That sounds really good." So I slammed it closed and said "Take it."
Apr 15, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with a stiff upper lip
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
I bought the 1940's penguin edition of this book which is really appealing in its simplicity. No gimmicks, bells or whistles. It has a minimalist post war cover and the most animated looking penguin logo ever. In hindsight perhaps the austerity was a nod to the emotional austerity shielded between the cover. Slightly less appealing is the back page with the author photograph. While I have no doubt that Elizabeth Bowen was probably a delightful woman, the photographer has managed to catch her in ...more
Sep 12, 2011 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sue by: Constant Reader-Classics
When I started this book, I wondered if I would make it to the end. Everything seemed disjointed. No one spoke or acted as real people spoke or acted (at least not as I've experienced them). The children weren't really children; the adults...not sure what they were.

Then I came to the middle section labeled "The Past". This section opened the book up for me, making the characters real, illuminating the author's choices (for me) even for the strange dialogue and monologue choices. Everything else
Jan 26, 2013 Lobstergirl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cornichon peelers
Shelves: fiction

"In the first rank of the brilliant women writers," asserts the New York Times blurb, offensively. Actually Bowen is in the first rank of the brilliant writers. Her craftsmanship is exquisite, she is masterful at having her characters express the perfect emotion, and if there's a writer of adult novels who can write from a child's vantage point better, I don't know who it is.

The House in Paris is divided into three sections. The first and last, titled "The Present," take place over the course of
Mar 24, 2009 Rhonda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes British women's lit beyond Woolf
"But to be quite oneself one must first waste a little time."

What a coincidence--I just stumbled onto this group at the precise moment I'm reading The House in Paris! In the 90s, I wrote my diss on Bowen and other neglected British women authors (Olivia Manning, Storm Jameson, Antonia White, Betty Miller [Jonathan's mother:], Rebecca West), but mainly Bowen; she was my portal into the work of these women writing in Woolf's shadow. Last week, I reviewed Victoria Glendinning's biography of Bowen a
Jan 13, 2017 Bettie☯ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Laura

Description: 1: From her deathbed, the sinister Madame Fisher weaves the lives of young Henrietta and Leopold as she manipulated others before them. But who is Karen, the mother who gave Leopold away? Will Madame Fisher reveal her secrets of love, scandal and death?

2: Apart for five years, Karen agrees to an illicit meeting with Max that is set to spark fatal consequences.

3: Fading fast, is scheming Mme Fisher sowing the seeds for the ultimate destruction
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
From her deathbed, the sinister Madame Fisher weaves the lives of young Henrietta and Leopold as she manipulated others before them.

But who is Karen, the mother who gave Leopold away? Will Madame Fisher reveal her secrets of love, scandal and death?

Episode 2 of 3
Apart for five years, Karen agrees to an illicit meeting with Max that is set to spark fatal consequences.

Episode 3 of 3
Fading fast, is scheming Mme Fisher sowing the seeds for the ultimate destruction of her hous
Jan 09, 2014 Kim rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook

I no longer remember what motivated me to read (or rather listen to) this novel, which is my first experience of Elizabeth Bowen's writing. It's an odd work and I'm not exactly sure what I think or how I feel about it.

What I'm in no doubt about, though, is that I wish I'd read the novel and not listened to it. This has nothing to do with the writing and everything to do with the main narrator, Elizabeth Jasicki. Her voices for a number of the characters were over-fussy and mannered, her French
It was an unexpected joy to read this book. I got it because of a bookclub read and had never heard of it before. But within very few pages I found myself drawn into the world of Leopold and Henrietta, two children who happens to meet in a house in Paris.
The book is seperated into three parts - present, past and present again. Henrietta is a young girl going from England to visit her grandmother and has to spent one day in a friend of her grandmother's house in Paris while waiting for the next t
Richard Derus
Rating: 2.75* of five

The Book Report: Henrietta and Leopold, two young people in transit, come together at the Paris house of Miss Fisher, a mousy spinster, and her formidable mother Madame Fisher. Henrietta is the granddaughter of an old frenemy of Madame's; Leopold has a less well-explained, more painful connection to the Fishers. He is there in the Fisher house to meet, for the first time, his mother. She gave him up for adoption because he was the product of a fling, a casual passion indulge
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
May 02, 2010 Shannon (Giraffe Days) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, 2010
For my first foray into Bowen, who was a popular writer in her time, I picked The House in Paris mostly because it's from the 30s and I was looking for books written then. I don't know what year it's set in, but it's definitely between-the-wars. Perhaps due to knowing that another war happens, I am always expecting there to be some kind of sign, some conversation that shows a presentiment of danger, some sign that there's rumbling in the air. There never is any indication that the people, were t ...more
Jan 31, 2016 Suzy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Suzy by: Tessa Hadley in The Past
Tessa Hadley in her marvelous novel The Past, said that she shamelessly borrowed the structure of her novel from this Elizabeth Bowen classic. At the time I read this, I had (shamefully) never heard of Bowen or The House in Paris. As in Hadley's novel, this book starts out and ends in "The Present". The focus of The Present is two children, Leopold and Henrietta, who are stopping at the house of Mme. Fisher in Paris for just a day as a connection point for further journeying. The bulk of this bo ...more
I'm just not sure how I feel about this book! E. Bowen writes brilliantly in that detached, British pre-war kind of way, leaving questions strewn in her wake! OK, so in a very cold & detached way, this is about innocence, betrayal, sex, death, lies, & what horrible things may await the children who learn about all these before they're ready to deal with them. (Leopold is clearly the literary son of that creepy little boy in The Turn of the Screw.) But what happens to Henrietta as a resul ...more
Jul 12, 2016 Kirsty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was utterly swept away by this. The characters, particularly the children, are divinely crafted, and everything about it felt realistic. Beautifully written, and almost impossible to put down.
Lisa Vegan
There’s a great introduction by A.S. Byatt, particularly interesting because it contained personal reminisces of multiple readings of the book.

I almost arbitrarily chose the star rating for this book. I’ve never had such a difficult time rating a book. Honestly, at times during reading it, I could have chosen anything from 1 to 5 stars. It was a bizarre reading experience for me. It’s the most exasperating book I’ve read in the almost 2 years since I joined Goodreads. With many books I’ve had a
I was surprised by how good this book was. Like some of the other commenters below, I was more taken with the present than with the past, though once I had finished I could see how it works.

For me the strength of this book's prose was its pace. It was slow, but in a good way. Not heavy or ponderous or even methodical, just taking as much time as is necessary to describe things as they are. I think, too, that this is why the present sections feel so much more engaging than the past; these sectio
May 04, 2012 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bowen, irish-authors
One day in February two children meet, Henrietta (11) and Leopold (9), both are briefly visiting “The House in Paris” owned by Mme Fisher. Henrietta is on her way to her grandmothers and Leopold is waiting to meet his mother for the first time. The book is divided in three sections: (1) the “present” what happens in the house; (2) the “past” - the story of Leopold’s mother Karen as imagined in Leopold’s mind; and (3) the “present” which finishes out the day. This is such a strange and intriguing ...more
A bit of a slog, at times excessively dramatic in a manner that only early novels know how to be. Virginia Woolf liked this book but she didn’t like Ulysses; she is not to be trusted.
Apr 02, 2007 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Woolf and James
Elizabeth Bowen is an elegant stylist. It is almost as if each paragraph is a little work of art. The novel begins with two children, Henrietta and Leopold, meeting in a house in Paris. They are both only there in passing, yet over the course of an afternoon they have the shared experience of becoming privy to a dark secret and a cloudy glimpse into the world of the adults who surround them. Exhibiting brilliant shifts in viewpoints, the novel explores sex, identity, and lost innocence in skillf ...more
A very difficult book to rate. The characters as represented through dialogue are very odd. While reading this book I kept asking myself, "who speaks like this?" The answer is, of course, "no one." This strange dialogue is intentional, but still not a pleasure to read and very distracting to the story. On the other hand, some of the characters (who speak this strange dialogue) will not be easily forgotten, nor will the story as a whole.
Jan 14, 2017 Wanda marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wanda by: Laura
14 JAN 2016 - recommendation through Laura. Many Thanks!
Dopo diverso rimuginare (e rimandare!), sono riuscita a scrivere la recensione de La casa di Parigi di Elizabeth Bowen, pubblicato da Sonzogno nella traduzione di Alessandra Di Luzio.
È un'impressione che avevo avuto già leggendo La morte del cuore, pubblicato da Neri Pozza nel 2012, quella che la traduzione dei testi della Bowen non sia poi cosa leggera. Un po' per il lessico utilizzato e il registro stilistico dell'autrice e, in larga parte, per i suoi repentini cambi di punti di vista. È un'a
Sep 04, 2012 Ali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this through the literary blog hop giveaway in June. I think I may have read it before – but I am not sure – I happened to read a couple of reviews of it on other book blogs and both times the description of the book resonated strongly. The title was also very familiar and I knew I had read The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen before I re-read it in July – so it’s possible I also read this one around the same time – probably twenty years ago now. I was so
Apr 06, 2014 Leif rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-best
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tal Goretsky
The amazing thing is how fast I read this book. The writing is so good that you just breeze right through it, even though it was written in the 1930s and is very challenging. I enjoyed the plot about a young precocious girl who spends a few hours one day in a mysterious house in Paris on her way to the countryside. What I hated is how annoyingly precocious the children in the book were - so freakin annoying! Most of the book is digestible, but the last fifty pages are the biggest pain in the ass ...more
May 14, 2012 Ruth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This may be my last Elizabeth Bowen. I read her Death of the Heart, some weeks ago. Had high hopes that this would be better. Her writing is lovely. Most of the time. Other times it seems straining too hard to be lovely. Many times I had to backtrack and reread in order to make a sentence scan into sense. Way too much mulling and discussing of the unmullable and undiscussable. Some things cannot be put into words, are best left for us to interpret through images and actions.

The little boy (whose
Dec 21, 2008 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is extraordinarily good. I can't wait to read more of her. The novel takes place, essentially, in one day during the lives of two children who meet unexpectedly at a house in Paris. By the time the novel ends you learn learn so much about them and the adults surrounding them. It reminds me of Mrs. Dalloway. Just as good as that.
A fair number of people writing about this novel in Goodreads have expressed extreme disappointment while others have expressed enthusiasm and others have said that they had mixed feelings about it. I feel the same. The story is in at least one respect very powerfully presented and in at least another respect a compilation of very poor writing indeed. a reader is likely to be confused and torn between rejection and attraction.

First the negative: Elizabeth Bowen's writing is pretentious and date
Caroline Scott
Apr 13, 2017 Caroline Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Confined primarily to one day in one house in Paris, this is a fascinating combination of claustrophobia, momentum and magnitude – and full of instantly memory-imprinting images. A brief close-up focus, which promises to pull out to so much more, and leaves the imagination fizzing.
That autumn they sent her away to a finishing school, from which she came back next year with an unchippable glaze.
Elizabeth Bowen's House In Paris goes to some lengths to contrast a wide arching structure that bridges present and past, with a small scale intimately-knowing storyline.

Cleverly setting up little stations along the way, where much of the narrative seems to intersect, the three sections of the book weave what is known about the past into what is coming to be known, as the story u
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Aunt Violet 1 9 Jan 29, 2014 06:52PM  
Boxall's 1001 Bo...: March {2009} Discussion -- THE HOUSE IN PARIS by Elizabeth Bowen 14 153 Apr 06, 2009 10:19PM  
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  • Doting
  • Searches and Seizures
  • Believers: A novella and stories
  • Selected Poems
  • The Stories (So Far)
  • Stories in an Almost Classical Mode
  • A Life in Letters
  • Story of a Life
  • Persian Nights
  • The Wonders Of The Invisible World
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Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen, CBE was an Anglo-Irish novelist and short story writer.
More about Elizabeth Bowen...

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“...there must be something she wanted; and that therefore she was no lady.” 9 likes
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