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The Pleasing Hour

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3.23 of 5 stars 3.23  ·  rating details  ·  711 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Lily King’s highly acclaimed, award-winning debut novel is the story of Rosie, an American au pair in Paris whose coming of age defies all our usual conceptions of naïveté and experience. Rosie is fleeing an unspeakable loss that has left her homesick for her family. As she awkwardly grasps for the words to communicate with and connect to Nicole, the cool, distant, and bea ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 23rd 2010 by Grove Press (first published September 1st 1999)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,219)
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Christyl
While I found King's first effort well-written and compelling in the beginning, I was left disappointed and thoroughly annoyed by the time I finished it. The plot is uneven and rambling with many background stories of peripheral characters that are left incomplete and therefore frustratingly superfluous. Furthermore, even the main characters are never fully realized. We are given a rather complete history of Nicole, for example, her mother and childhood, only to be left with virtually no explana ...more
Renee Braverman

The Pleasing Hour


by Lily King


Rosie goes to Paris to be an au pair. Her baggage includes a motherless childhood and a teen pregnancy deliberately and secretly planned in order to give her barren sister a much-desired child. Being an au pair in Paris follows the delivery of the baby and is designed to separate herself from the baby she cannot acknowledge.

Rosie settles into her role as an au pair with the Tivot family, Nicole and Marc and their three children. We learn the history of each o
...more
Cai
After I read Euphoria I went in search of more of Lily King’s novels and happened on her first, The Pleasing Hour. I read about two thirds of it and put it down. It was a meandering novel that did not seem to know its business. It kept dropping characters I cared about to pick up on others I had no interest in. I still look forward to reading more of King’s work, as Euphoria was riveting.
Nancy
Although King kept my attention with her story, I found some of the transitions awkward and the relationships between the characters somewhat unclear. We don’t know why Nicole is so resentful of Rosie from their first meeting or why she feels so close and trusting of her at the end. The bull fighting scene is very good as she depicts the same bull-killing scenes through the eyes of each of the characters. Symbolically, something could probably be made of this and the difficult problems that have ...more
Michelle
Admittedly I had sky high expectations for this due to how much I adored her most recent book, Father of the Rain. That book blew me away. This one has lovely writing but just felt too quiet and quaint. Also, it lacks the (dark/bitter/sharp) humor of Father of the Rain. I'm sure I would've liked this better if I hadn't read that one first. Of course I only picked this up because I loved that one so much!
Corinne
Potentially could have been great...found the story very choppy and underdeveloped. Left not fully understanding Nicole's history and the point of it all...so cold to Rosie at their first meeting and so trusting and friendly at the end, and not sure how that happened.
Marvin
This novel has received rave reviews, but I found it rather uninteresting. A young woman becomes an au pair for a Parisian family to escape her past & ends up falling in love with the father (I guess; even that's not altogether clear).
Amy Geriak
Beautifully written novel from the perspectives of several characters. The story centers around an American girl working as an au pair in Paris. Lovely, and just my kind of book -- a perfect fit for me. I'd highly recommend it.
Janis Williams
Excellent summer read, especially for those with unfulfilled longing for Paris or Provence. Our protagonist is an American au pair. The wealthy family she comes to live with live on a houseboat on the Seine. The mother has roots in Provence. A lot of this is set in the recently past present, if I can call it that. Time passes so quickly. (If the people don't have cell phones, what year is it?) Here's a quote which resonated with me. Our au pair has met some other au pairs in a Paris night club. ...more
Elizabeth
Well-paced, bittersweet novel about a young American woman working as an au pair in France for the year.
K Loh-Crouch
Oct 04, 2007 K Loh-Crouch is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
not that interesting...I'm having trouble finishing
Awallens
The act of writing a first novel has a lot in common with being an au pair. Each is often accomplished by a young, overeducated woman who believes she is
the center of the universe. This can make for dull reading, and sometimes for unattended children falling down staircases. But Lily King's fine first novel--about
an au pair--neatly avoids the solipsism that often plagues coming-of-age stories. In The Pleasing Hour, 19-year-old Rosie has fled New Hampshire for France
after undergoing an anguishing
...more
Dana
I read a REALLY beautiful book which I finished during a recent non-snow snow day! "The Pleasing Hour," by Lily King is the lyrical, moving, lush and gorgeous story of a young American girl who heads to Paris to be an au pair to a family with 4 children, the oldest being a teenaged girl struggling with her sexual identity. The family lives in a houseboat docked on the Seine. Rosie, the au pair, has fled her life in the states, after giving birth at age 19, but it's not what it seems. It was a pl ...more
Karo
I very much enjoyed reading The Pleasing Hour -- I'm actually quite surprised that Oprah hasn't chosen it for her book club. It's very much her type of book -- summer reading with a kick. The novel centers around a young American girl who literally runs away to Paris and becomes an au pair for a rather interesting family there. The Pleasing Hour deals not only with Rosie, the au pair, but delves into the characters of the entire Tivot family -- the distant and cold mother, the scattered father w ...more
Ruby
Dec 12, 2008 Ruby rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ruby by: found it at the library
Shelves: novels
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dee
This book was a true surprise for me. I found it in a dollar bin at Half Price books and I purchased it because some of the reviews were pretty positive. This book is so full of emotional truth and sharp observations that it left me thinking about it for days after having finished it. Amazingly, its author never loses the book to a pedantic or judging tone, which is no mean feat for so deeply probing a novel.

It's set in France and centers around an American girl who has gone to be an au pair fo
...more
Maayan Schwab
I did like this book a lot, but as I was reading, I kept wavering between giving it 3 and 4 stars. Ultimately, there were some bits of the story that felt disappointing, though not dramatically, and not to a degree that impacted my enjoyment. There was also a variation in the pace of the narrative, at times slow and even boring, and at others gripping and engaging. While I liked the characters a great deal, I didn't love any of them, really... or come to feel a connection to them. So: 3 stars. B ...more
Jinny
I enjoyed this book because I identified with the main character's ambivalence about a lot of things; her decisions, some misguided and some loving; and her admitted, and very human, sloppiness compared to the polished, confident Nicole.

The characters of the Tivot children, and Lucie, were particularly well drawn. Marcelle and Octave, and Nicole and Marc's, relationships (and others) have a haunting, "gaping hole" quality to them -- through no fault of anyone's, the participants don't really co
...more
Diane
A story about a girl who has a child for her barren sister and then flees to Paris to serve as an au pair. It is a story about sisters, family, love and survival.

It was an ok read. It could have been so much better if the author focused more on main characters and theme than the extensive time talking about secondary characters and extraneous story lines. After reading other reviews here, I may need to try one of Lily King's other books.
Michelle
I stopped reading this book about halfway through the novel. I found it very confusing in the way that the story jumped from character to character and from setting to setting. I understood that the story revolved around one family, but it was too much effort to try to merge all the separate pieces of this novel. What I most appreciated were the occasional glimpses into the world of the wealthy Parisian women who wear high heels to bring their children to school, don't allow themselves even a sl ...more
Michelle
Well written and sincere. The narrative is a little difficult to follow sometimes, but that could be because I read it while I was on painkillers. My main complaint is that the story is a bit predictable. My heart sank when it became clear that the American nanny was going to have an affair with the father of the children for whom she cares; it was much less interesting than a plot point that was set up earlier and then sort of abandoned. I wouldn't be surprised if Lily King writes an epic novel ...more
Katie
Meh... I read this because I absolutely loved "Father of the Rain" by this same author, but this was not as good. I still liked it, though. She is an excellent writer, but I found this one to be overwritten (and by that I mean, 2 paragraphs of description about something that could've taken a sentence. I'm not insistent on sparse writing or anything, I just found myself skimming in places, thinking "get to the point").

The book is about an au pair with a past she is trying to run away from, and h
...more
Diane
My library in Shrewsbury has provided me with a reading month full of very thought provoking books. This one is about siblings, pregnancy, birth, loss, choices made in haste and the consequences of them. This is a first novel for this author and it is impressive to me that someone can write this well on their first try. The main character travels from New Hampshire to France and functions as an au pair for the duration of the book. Hard characters to like surround the main one but by the end I u ...more
Lauren
I thought this book was excellent -- offering exactly what I cherish in a book: interesting plot, nuanced characters, subtle observations of people and relationships.

As other reviews accurately state, the basic premise of the book undersells the emotional depth. The book is about a young woman who flees an emotional family situation in the U.S. by becoming an au pair in France. While there, she falls in love with the father of the family. This may sound like cliched, well-traveled material, but
...more
Pia
When I started this book, it captivated me - the narrative, the voice, etc. But then it started to go a little awry for me. There were character explorations that sort of came out of nowhere, and I wasn't sure why we were reading so deeply into each of these people.
Diane
I read Lily King's novel, Father of the Rain, and rather enjoyed it. I deliberately set out to find more of her writing. The Pleasing Hour was her first novel and it pales in comparison. The main character, Rosie, is a 19 year old au pair for a Parisian family. She is running away from problems at home and you can guess how well that turns out. Her employer, Nicole, has many difficulties of her own. The husband, Marc, is weak and unhappy so you can guess what happens next. King writes well but t ...more
Pamela Ferguson
an interesting read - an American girl working as an au paire to a family in Paris who lives on a floating home perhaps on the Seine. An intriguing multi-generational story. An excellent complex relationship between Parisian mother and au paire. lots of emphasis on struggling to learn the French language. viola!
Sara Smith
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ariele
Good book. Evocative prose which is good because the plot is slow and sparse, more introspective that progressive. A young woman comes of age in Paris as an au pair - but it is quite not your normal coming of age in Paris storyline. Satisfying ending.
Anne
A young American girl goes to Paris to live on a houseboat with a Parisian family as the au pair for their three children. Wonderful descriptions of day-to-day Parisian life.
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Lily King grew up in Massachusetts and received her B.A. in English Literature from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her M.A. in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. She has taught English and Creative Writing at several universities and high schools in this country and abroad. Lily's new novel, Euphoria, was released in June 2014. It has drawn significant acclaim so far, bei ...more
More about Lily King...
Euphoria Father of the Rain The English Teacher Ploughshares Fall 2005 Guest-Edited by Antonya Nelson

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“Who can explain why a few words in a particular tone can clear acres of sudden unfamiliarity? ...Would that person look up and grin, and find him grinning back, full of the sweet miraculous relief of having been perfectly received? ...He was saying, if it's not carrots, it's something else; he was saying, How futile life is, the slicing of carrots, the eating of meals; he was saying, How wonderful life is, to come home to the security of carrots in the kitchen; he was saying, Another day come to its devastating close. He was saying all this and I heard him because he was like me, entirely ambivalent about life. It was almost a question: Should I be full of joy or despair, Rosie? Joy, my face always replied to him, not because I felt sure that was the answer, but because I'd begun to want to make it his.” 2 likes
“So much of this trip had been spent gazing at spectacular sights, which always filled me, as this one did now, with agonizing frustration. Why couldn't I simply accept and enjoy beauty? What was it that stirred up this terrible discomfort? ...We agreed it was the impermanence, the inability to possess, the reminder of death.” 1 likes
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