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A Simple Heart

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  2,772 Ratings  ·  185 Reviews
A Simple Heart, also published as A Simple Soul.

In A Simple Heart, the poignant story that inspired Julian Barnes's Flaubert's Parrot, Felicite, a French housemaid, approaches a lifetime of servitude with human-scaled but angelic aplomb. No other author has imparted so much beauty and integrity to so modest an existence. Flaubert's "great saint" endures loss after loss by
Paperback, 64 pages
Published April 17th 1996 by New Directions (first published 1877)
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Bogdan Yes, definitely. The description here on Goodreads is actually on point; there's nothing graphic in it, so it's safe for young teens.

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As in Madame Bovary a playful knowing permeates every line Flaubert writes. He will not keep secrets from you, he will let you see everyone's character and intentions as soon as they make appearance on the stage. You just know them. The trouble is, by the end you're still struggling to put it all together. You understand too much or perhaps understand too little. You keep oscillating like a pendulum.

I might be off the mark but Félicité comes off as the antitype of all that makes Emma Bovary, Emm
Dec 13, 2015 ·Karen· rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How are editors paid? No, seriously, I'd like to know, because I reckon what happened with this livre de poche edition, which admittedly was very reasonably priced, what happened was that the publishers decided to change Ms Azéma's contract.

"Mme Azéma, so glad to reach you. We have decided, for the new edition of Flaubert's Un Coeur Simple, to put you on piece rates. Shall we say 20 cents per annotation? Thank you. Goodbye"

End of phone call. So to make sure that Librairie Générale Française ne
So, this is where Julian Barnes gets the idea for his novel Flaubert's Parrot. Set in 19th century France, this is a simple, yet beautiful story of loyal and persistent Felicite. She is jilted by her boyfriend as a young girl, then runs away to become maid and caregiver for a widow and her two children. She also worries after her nephew and later in life cares for her adored pet parrot, LouLou. She spends the rest of her life in service, unloved, unappreciated, suffering tragedy and heartbreak. ...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
I'm hiding the body of this review, as it's technically a big ole spoiler party. However, due to art critic Dave Hickey's obscenely flattering review of this novella in his essay collection Air Guitar, I was aware of every major spoiler that I reveal here before reading it, and still read the whole thing anyway, since it's not so much the plot as it is the prose that lifts this somewhat thin story off the page and makes it float about all shimmery and glorious. Anyway, your choice. Just proceed ...more
Viji  (Bookish endeavors)
Aug 13, 2015 Viji (Bookish endeavors) rated it it was amazing
Edition- Penguin little black classics
Translation- Roger Whitehouse

Fourth of the five little black classics series I picked. And my first reading of Flaubert. First I must mention how happy I was when I saw these tiny books at the bookstore. Usually I wade through the books at the store for an hour or two,just to get a feel of it,to drink in the smell,to get the feel of new pages on my fingers. The bookstore guys don't mind me spending few hours just walking there or sitting on the floor in a co
Jun 30, 2016 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoughtful moving prose that moved me to joy and sadness in equal measure. A simple story of a simple woman who moves through life in a simple way, a story of warmth and lost love.
A gentle story that left me truely happy and content; highly recommended.
Ana Rînceanu
When your read the description presented above do yourself a favor. Don't think yourself above such a such a subject. You'll find yourself in my situation: smiling bitterly with your head bowed, feeling thoroughly humbled.
Jul 05, 2013 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novella, usually translated as A Simple Heart, sometimes as A Simple Soul, is the tale of a poor uneducated servant, jilted by her lover when she was a young woman, who spends most of her life serving a mistress not particularly caring or affectionate, endlessly showering her love and care on various people – her mistress’s children, her nephew, finally an old parrot given to her – all unconditionally and without significant reciprocity. It is a tale of faithfulness and perseverance, sadnes ...more
Caroline Gurgel
3.5 Realismo Extremo

A primeira coisa que fiz ao terminar Um Coração Simples foi procurar a data de sua publicação para confirmar minha suspeita de que a novela havia sido lançada após Madame Bovary. E foi… quase 20 anos depois. Só alguém que já escreveu sua obra-prima poderia se dar ao luxo de publicar uma história cuja personagem principal é alguém como Félicité.

Felicite não tem nada de extraordinário para contar. É uma moça comum, pobre, humilde, simples, ordinária, que até chega a pensar que
Liz Janet
Feb 14, 2016 Liz Janet rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Read his “Madam Bovary,” it is much better than this. I do understand that Flaubert was trying to show that a simple life has meaning, and that one does not need riches and to have traveled the world for a person’s life to have meaning. But could he not have done a better job at it? The one positive thing is that he knows how to portray the “poor people of the time” much better than other writers I have seen, such as Edith Wharton.
Jun 05, 2010 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A perfect 30-minute pity-fest.

I admire writers who don't write nice stories and happy endings, and Flaubert is the master of this. I appreciate the bleakness of Felicite's life and the fact that, were she the type to even consider her life, she probably wouldn't find it bleak at all. I think the sadness of her life was something she accepted but didn't let consume her, and instead she focused on her faith and the small parcels of love she could find in the world. That I found her life to be depr
Est-ce vrai que seuls ceux qui ont un cœur simple et qui sont simples d'esprit sont capables d'aimer sans attendre qu'ils soient aimés en retour ?

Un amour dévoué , est-il un moyen de se sentir vivant ou un outil d'autodestruction ?

"Félicité" avait un cœur simple mais capable de porter l'amour de tous les humains et de tous les animaux , sans qu'il y ait de place pour aucun mauvais sentiment .
Avec son amour universel , elle a arrivé à toucher l'infini ...

De retour , personne ne l'aimait , p
Oct 06, 2008 Werebot rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: bourgeois wankers.
Dostoyevsky and Flaubert hated one another, their styles are vastly different, and in that battle of literary heavyweights I have to go with Dostoyevsky, KO in the seventh. Though I later Read Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes which shed an interesting light on this novella, I don't quite see why mollycoddling the peasantry constitutes great literature. Flaubert seems to be saying "Isn't it fascinating that even the poor die?" Nice observation. Next.
Christian Kiefer
Apr 15, 2012 Christian Kiefer rated it it was amazing
Absolutely beautiful little novella by the master. And God is not a spider, as Bergman would tell us. He is a parrot. A huge parrot.
A short novella published as a Penguin Little Black Classic. Translated from French, first published in 1877.

This is a simple story outlining the life of an uneducated and somewhat naive servant woman Felicite, working for a wealthy woman, Madame Aubain for over fifty years. The story covers Felicite's early life, jilted by her only love, the growing of Madame Aubain's two children, the re-discovery of Felicite's sister and the nephew she never know about.

She shared an unusual relationship with
Paolo Gianoglio
Jun 02, 2016 Paolo Gianoglio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“La storia di Un cuore semplice è soltanto il racconto di una vita oscura, quella di una povera ragazza di campagna, devota ma mistica, che si sacrifica senza esaltazione, e tenera quale pane fresco. Lei ama via via un uomo, i figli della padrona, un nipote, un vecchio di cui si prende cura e infine il suo pappagallo. Quando il pappagallo muore, lo fa impagliare e, morendo a sua volta, lo confonde con lo Spirito Santo. Ciò non è affatto ironico, come potreste supporre; al contrario, è molto seri ...more
Krista Baetiong Tungol
A Simple Heart is realistic, poignant, and draws on life’s ambiguity at times.

For someone whose name means bliss or happiness, Félicité has experienced so many tragedies to last her a lifetime. But her resilience and fortitude motivate her to go on in pursuit of life, and her simple heart is content even with the smallest of things.

I had truly hoped for a happy ending for this woman, (view spoiler)
Willy Schuyesmans
Jun 14, 2015 Willy Schuyesmans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deze prachtige van Flaubert wil ik al lezen sinds Julian Barnes er zo prachtig over geschreven heeft in Flauberts papegaai. Het zo aandoenlijke verhaal over dienstmeid Félicité die in haar leven al haar geliefden ziet sterven, zelfs de papegaai die ze cadeau heeft gekregen en waar ze zozeer aan gehecht raakte en waardoor ze zich steeds meer afvraagt waarom de Heilige Geest niet voor een papegaai gekozen heeft in plaats van voor een duif. Een aanrader in o zo mooi Frans.
Amalia Pérez
Me ha gustado... pero algo faltó .-.
Oct 08, 2016 Ashish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ever since I read Julian Barnes' excellent book "Flaubert's Parrot", I have been fascinated and obsessed by the life and works of Gustave Flaubert. I have heard amazing things about his writing and "Madame Bovary" is considered his seminal work, one which I want to read in the very near future.

This short book gave me a taste of what his writing is all about; literary realism which he is a strong proponent of, and is still widely known as the biggest name in it. This story has been referenced a
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Poor, uneducated Felicite served Madame Aubain's family for fifty years. She grew attached to her master, her master's children (a son and a daughter), and a few other persons within the limited society of a servant like her. She had a pet parrot named Loulou. All of these persons either died one-by-one, left or had simply forgotten her. Even her pet parrot died, and she had it stuffed (badly) and kept it as a relic, putting it in her altar, and somehow recognizing a similarity between it (or he ...more
Dec 14, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-reads
Flaubert may be my all time favorite writer.

I remember going to D.C. a few years back and having a few hours to kill before my plane left so I went to the National Gallery. I didn’t have a bunch of time so I went straight to the Old Master and found myself standing in front of a self portrait by Rembrandt. I stood there about 5 feet away and was stunned and humbled. I couldn’t imagine someone having that much talent.

Flaubert is that good and A Simple Heart (also titled A Simple Soul) is like t
Peter Landau
Oct 04, 2016 Peter Landau rated it it was amazing
Jesus, I don't know what I'm reading. But I loved it. There's something about Gustave Flaubert, even in translation his prose carries me along. It should be boring as hell, A SIMPLE HEART, which follows a young servant in her servitude to everyone. Life isn't kind, but she's cool with it. She's got a parrot. I was unable to stop reading this novella, even as I wondered what it was that compelled me forward and held my attention so raptly. Maybe it's the artistry of the writer or the simple power ...more
Mar 02, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Sometimes you have to read something, not because you want to, but because you are forced to. Often times, it's a story you end up loving. This was NOT one of those times. The parrot was, by far, the most interesting character ... despite (or perhaps DUE TO) his limited dialogue. What an uneventful tale of a woman with the worst luck in the world. Reading this was like hanging out with a friend who complains too damn much. You just keep wondering when it's going to stop.
Shruthi Mudireddy
I was a tad disappointed by this particular translation and the pace of the book. I will read other translations too to make a fair judgement. However, this book did have a queer, nostalgic feeling about it that we feel as we reminisce a truly simpleminded and plain person.
Maureen Lo
Aug 20, 2016 Maureen Lo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
such a sad little story...
Jul 10, 2014 Carlos rated it really liked it
La novelista George Sand y Gustave Flaubert, el máximo representante de la narrativa realista francesa del siglo XIX (y, para muchos, el creador de la novela moderna; James Wood apuntó: “Los novelistas deberían agradecer a Flaubert del mismo modo que los poetas agradecen a la primavera: todo comienza otra vez con él”), se conocieron en 1857, durante una representación teatral; una década después, comenzarían una asidua y penetrante correspondencia, que duraría hasta la muerte de Sand, en 1876.
Jan 06, 2015 Bettie☯ marked it as to-read

Opening: For half a century the housewives of Pont-l'Eveque had envied Madame Aubain her servant Felicite.

For a hundred francs a year, she cooked and did the housework, washed, ironed, mended, harnessed the horse, fattened the poultry, made the butter and remained faithful to her mistress—although the latter was by no means an agreeable person.

Madame Aubain had married a comely youth without any money, who died in the beginning of 1809, leaving her with two y
David Ranney
May 30, 2013 David Ranney rated it really liked it
Arriving at the top of Ecquemanville, she saw the lights of Honfleur shining in the distance like so many stars; further on, the ocean spread out in a confused mass. Then a weakness came over her; the misery of her childhood, the disappointment of her first love, the departure of her nephew, the death of Virginia; all these things came back to her at once, and, rising like a swelling tide in her throat, almost choked her.
The story of a compassionate servant woman who gets repeatedly stomach-pu
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Gustave Flaubert (December 12, 1821 – May 8, 1880) is counted among the greatest Western novelists. He was born in Rouen, Seine-Maritime, in the Haute-Normandie Region of France.

Flaubert's curious modes of composition favored and were emphasized by these peculiarities. He worked in sullen solitude, sometimes occupying a week in the completion of one page, never satisfied with what he had composed,
More about Gustave Flaubert...

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“Having no intercourse with anyone, she lived in the torpid state of a sleep-walker.” 10 likes
“On days when it was too hot, they did not leave their room. The dazzling brilliance from outside plastered bars of light between the slats of the blinds. Not a sound in the village. Down below, on the sidewalk, no one. This spreading silence increased the tranquility of things. In the distance, the caulkers’ hammers tamped the hulls, and a heavy breeze brought the smell of tar.” 6 likes
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