The Girl at the Lion d'Or
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The Girl at the Lion d'Or

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  2,547 ratings  ·  159 reviews
"Beautifully written and--extraordinarily moving."--The Sunday Times (London)

From the author of the international bestseller Birdsong, comes a haunting historical novel of passion, loss, and courage set in France between the two world wars. This Vintage Original edition marks its first appearance in the United States.

On a rainy night in the 1930s, Anne Louvet appears at th...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 7th 1999 by Vintage (first published 1989)
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Community Reviews

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Kevin
This is a historical romance novel, the first of Sebastian Faulks’ ‘French Trilogy’, the other two being ‘Birdsong’ and ‘Charlotte Grey’, and all three are set in France, during the Great War, the Inter-War period and the Second World War. This novel, being the first he wrote in this trilogy, is set during the Inter-War period, the year being 1936 and the time of the Popular Front Govt. of Leon Blum. It is basically about a young Woman called Anne, her life and illicit affair with a rich married...more
Kristina
If you are dying for something to read, just so you can look at letters and exercise your brain, then read this. It's like mental jellybeans.
Veronica
Sebastian Faulks is turning out to be a bit like Rose Tremain: one brilliant book (Birdsong), one OK book (Charlotte Gray), and the rest ... indifferent. I found myself strangely unengaged by this one, a rather trivial tale compared to the other two. I never really felt involved with the characters, or moved by their feelings, and the ending was fairly predictable. Blah.
Nicole Alldredge
Sebastian Faulks is effective at transporting readers into France during the 1930's. It was interesting to visit Lion D'or and to glimpse into the politics and morals of the day. However, this novel did not live up to his previous novel "Birdsong" which I could not put down. The ending was a bit abrupt, and I could not quite get into the main character's head - but I found the book enjoyable nonetheless.
LitAddictedBrit
I have read and enjoyed a number of Faulks' novels (i.e. not just Birdsong...) and yet for some reason, after my dad passed on a 'spare' copy he had acquired somehow, I allowed it to languish on my shelves in our apartment, moved house and allowed it to languish some more (approximately one year) on my new shelves in our house. I definitely enjoyed all of Faulks' other books but this one just never grabbed me. I have no clue why. Having finally read it, I have absolutely no clue why!

There are so...more
Elva Kenley
Faulks deftly distills some of the major themes of French inter-war society into a seemingly 'light' tale of forbidden love. There's a lot going on for a short read and I admire the way he gives historical events a personal dimension. However, the main love story didn't really draw me in. I found Anne - the 'Girl' of the title, a rounded and sympathetic heroine, but I felt indifferent to the other characters. I suspect its one of those books that will probably stay with me...but I didn't love it...more
Christine
This is the 2nd of 3 books of Faulks' French trilogy that I have read. I found myself being compelled to read it, yet actually wanting to put it down for a while. It felt way too personal, like I was reading someone's diary in a manner of speaking. Faulks seems to be able to get inside his characters' minds, where thoughts are often messy and incomplete and puzzling. Unlike Birdsong, he does not wrap it up and put a bow on it.......Not light reading and don't read it in the winter-time when it's...more
Jon
I've read two novels by Faulks now (after giving up on his Jeeves book), both of them historical romances, both involving adulterous affairs, this one in 1936 France, the other in 1960 America. Both also involve sympathetic people trying to deal with emotions they don't fully understand and trying to do the right thing in impossible situations. In this one the cheated-on character was the wife; in the other it was the husband. Part of this one was the gradual realization of how WW I damaged thes...more
George
"Hartmann nodded. 'What is the matter with this country? Why can't we produce a single man to run efficiently what should be one of the most civilised nations in the world?'
"'Because we're only drawing on half the proper capacity,' said Antoine. 'The men who should be leading this country are dead and buried on the battlefields of the Western Front.'
"'So ensuring that history will briefly repeat itself.'"


Bleak, right? This is the first novel of Faulks's that I've read, and it won't be the last -...more
Andy
young girl fleeing family shame [father shot an officer rather than go back to trenches in WWI) moves from Paris to southern hotel, where she falls for member of local gentry
interesting collection of characters - harsh hotel manager, dodgy builder ,womanising architect, PFY etc
backdrop of intolerance, growing racism toward jews, misgovernance and political scandal, and fear of renewed war with Germany
Megan Jones
I had previously read a few of Faulks books before this one notably 'A Week In December' and 'Birdsong' so was expecting this to be a good read. However nothing prepared me for its brilliance, it is so good and completely gripping and absolutely beautiful, from the characters to the storyline to the description within, everything was simply stunning. This is on a par with the brilliance that is 'Birdsong' it was that good. The fact that I found it to be completely enjoyable did surprise me becau...more
Hannah
This isn't my favourite of Sebastian Faulks's novels, but it was a good read nonetheless. It deals with the classic Faulks themes of love and loss, emotions, wonderful historical settings and clever links to his other works. I'm a great fan of his style. The main weakness in my opinion was the ending which was very abrupt, but overall i enjoyed it.
Mom
Oct 13, 2008 Mom rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who love character-driven novels
Recommended to Mom by: found at an ice cream parlor in France!
An elegant small jewel of a book set between the Wars in France. A penniless bar waitress arrives in a small town, captivates a restless, wealthy, middle-aged man of integrity. Difficult choices, strong characters, the will to survive weave the proverbial tangled web.
Dennis
This was the first of the trilogy I believe and the most lightweight although it did tell a lot more than a typical wartime romance. I'd recommend it on the basis of being a good read and good introduction into the other two books, Birdsong and Charlotte Grey.
Karen
Not my cuppa. It reads like a historical romance novel (or my imagination of one). All the intrigue and psychological underpinnings lead to . . . nothing. Memo to file: stop selecting books based upon whether they fit in my purse.
Beverly
Thoughtful and beautiful book. It makes we want to explore other books Faulks has written.
Gwilym
A good story, enjoyable and thought provoking in regards to emotion and how it is shaped for long periods of time by events which are far in the past. I thought the ending felt a little rushed, somewhat incomplete but appreciated it in a different light after I read analysis of the book comparing the character of Anne to that of France itself. It would be interesting to see a novel based upon Janvilliers and see how Mattlin would collude with the Nazis, especially in regards to Jewish people.

I h...more
Algernon
A very "French" novel, not so much in the setting - a small bourgeois town close to the ocean - but in the introspective dissection of the lives of ordinary people living their ordinary lives. I don't know if "existentialism" is the right word, but I was reminded of the works of Zola, Balzac or Tolstoy. To campare Anne from the Lion d'Or with Anna Karenina is perhaps a little forced, but that is what her passion for life and her tragic condition evoked in me.

I was also detecting an Erich Maria R...more
Don
Young woman with a secret arrives in a small French town to take a waitress job at the Lion d'Or. The hotel's mediocre restaurant buzzes with small town intrigue and, amongst the male clientèle, salacious innuendo. But Hartmann appears, distantly at first, as a different type of male. Sensitive and refined, a part of him is open to the anxieties and sadness of other lives, though the rest restrained by his patrician sense of responsibility to the woman with whom he lives in a loveless marriage.

T...more
Magda
initially the relations and exchanges between the two main characters (and lovers, hartmann and anna) seem a bit empty and hectic, deprived of that careful attention to detail that can be found in the accompanying passages about objects and political or natural phenomena. luckily they become somewhat juicier and fuller later. still, utill the very end it's only hartmann who seems to live through his experience and digest it in a proper way, whether we like and approve his decisions or not, while...more
Literary Relish
Quite honestly Faulks' The Girl at the Lion d'Or certainly didn't have priority out of all of the titles in our mini-library at home, it probably didn't even have a spot on Mount TBR yet I caved in to its small size and the promise of easy-reading after June's Bulgakov marathon. I read Birdsong last year and, although it hardly changed my life, it is immensely readable and provides us with a very important, if fictional, account of life during World War I. The Girl at the Lion d'Or, as part of F...more
Noel
This was a GREAT book; I really enjoyed the story, characters and plot and didn't want it to end. However, there are two things that brought it down a notch: One: the amount of typos drove me nuts - some were subtle, some required a second read of the same sentence for clarification -- very distracting. The second problem was a bit in the novel where the main character, Anne, who is a waitress, hotel maid gets invited to a very swanky, but relaxed weekend in the country with wealthy people. At t...more
Steve
This historical romance set in the inter-war years in the French provincial town of Janvilliers is claustrophobic in its portayal of an ilicit love affair between a local aristocrat and a waitress with a hidden past. Faulk's ability to condense the atmosphere of his historical setting into the pages of his novels is masterful and he has brilliantly captured the instability of the political and social climate as well as the deep emotional scars borne by those who had survived the horrors of the G...more
James Barker
This is a well-written page-turner and, as you would expect from Faulks, it shines brightest when detailing elements of the war. The air of tragedy-in-waiting permeates the whole book. While the townspeople, indeed the whole of France, is dreading the inevitable war that will come a few years down the line, the reader quakes with each boom and creak inside the mansion. It is not a difficult ending to imagine but that is I think precisely the point. It is as if the tide of history is dragging eve...more
Hazel
I read this book after having read some of Faulks' more recent work (Birdsong, Human Traces and A Week in December) and I found it differed in many respects, but remained recogniseable to the author in the intelligence it demonstrates.
However, I think that in The Girl at the Lion Lion d'Or, Faulks isn't trying to show off his intelligence, which makes the book feel more naturalistic. He weaves a story that keeps the reader engaged throughout.
I loved this book up until the very end, which ends o...more
Nicky
My first Sebastian Faulks.

It was OK. I felt I was reading about the characters' emotions rather than feeling them, and Hartmann's introspection was annoying and shallow. Anne was little better. She was labelled 'resilient' all the way through yet she did not come across that way. The stories of her dancing did not ring true. Was she telling us so vehemently that she laughed and danced to convince us or herself? She is a victim.

The part I most enjoyed was seeing the effects of the Great War on...more
Shoshi
A girl who is haunted by her shameful past. Between two wars. She escapes Paris to escape herself. Gets an older man as her lover in a small town. But small town talk creates too much pressure for both. She has to leave.
It would have the frame for a nice romance, in post WWI France. But for me, the style did not appeal. The sentences are long and stiff. Its dragging on. The novel had no closure. I was disappointed.
Andrew
I read and enjoyed Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong last year. After I finished it, I discovered that it was the second book of his French Trilogy, so I sought out the first one, The Girl At The Lion D'Or.

It is a pretty strange trilogy. Firstly, Birdsong is mostly set during the first world war, and The Girl At The Lion D'Or is set a decade or two later, in the 1930s. Also, the books have very few characters in common - apparently Charles Hartmann, one of the main characters of this book makes a small...more
Neil Powell
I began reading this having had experience of the best (Birdsong) and the worst (Charlotte Gray) of Faulk's work. It didn't really sound like it was a book I would enjoy, but I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised. Faulk use of the English language is fantastic, the metaphors and descriptions allow the reader to fully picture how the people and places within the novel look and sound.

The central romance of the story was not entirely original, and bore a striking resemblance to the central...more
Becky
Short and sweet Sebastian Faulks novel about a couple of lovers. This is one of those rare books where I fully empathised with the characters and felt as though I knew them as though they were a real friend. It has to be a good story for you to feel like that. I'd definitely recommend it and read it again as a quick holiday read.
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Sebastian Faulks was born in 1953, and grew up in Newbury, the son of a judge and a repertory actress. He attended Wellington College and studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, although he didn’t enjoy attending either institution. Cambridge in the 70s was still quite male-dominated, and he says that you had to cycle about 5 miles to meet a girl. He was the first literary editor of “The Independe...more
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“From an early age she had developed the art of being alone and generally preferred her own company to anyone else’s. She read books at enormous speed and judged them entirely on her ability to remove her from her material surroundings. In almost all the unhappiest days of her life she had been able to escape from her own inner world by living temporarily in someone else’s, and on the two or three occasions that she had been too upset to concentrate she had been desolate.” 12 likes
“That night Christine Hartmann went to bed with a book she had taken from among the many that lay strewn around the Manor. From an early age she had developed the art of being alone and generally preferred her own company to anyone else's. She read books at enormous speed and judged them entirely on their ability to remove her from her material surroundings. In almost all the unhappiest days of her life she had been able to escape from her own inner world by living temporarily in someone else's, and on the two or three occasions that she had been too upset to concentrate she had been desolate.” 3 likes
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