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The Foundling Boy

(The Foundling Boy #1)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  270 ratings  ·  63 reviews
The classic coming-of-age novel translated into English for the first time.

It is 1919. On a summer’s night in Normandy, a newborn baby is left in a basket outside the home of Albert and Jeanne Arnaud. The childless couple take the foundling in, name him Jean, and decide to raise him as their own, though his parentage remains a mystery.

Though Jean’s life is never dull, he g
Paperback, 416 pages
Published December 2nd 2013 by Gallic Books (first published 1975)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  270 ratings  ·  63 reviews

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Jun 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Did not finish. The praise for this story mystifies me. Female characters seem to exist only as objects of sexual conquest. No one seems to be honest or entirely sane. It just left me depressed, so I stopped about 40% through.
Oct 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Michel Déon, born in 1919 (as is the hero of this book), is an acclaimed and well known author in his native France but little known here, and Gallic Books are to be applauded for yet again bringing an excellent French writer to a new readership. The Foundling Boy was first published in 1975 and is the coming-of-age story of Jean Arnaud, a foundling who is discovered late one night on the doorstep of Albert and Jeanne Arnaud, servants to the aristocratic Les Courseau family. Childless, the coupl ...more
Liz Barnsley
Nov 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
**4.5 stars**

Coming December from Gallic Books

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.

It is 1919. On a summer’s night in Normandy, a newborn baby is left in a basket outside the home of Albert and Jeanne Arnaud. The childless couple take the foundling in, name him Jean, and decide to raise him as their own, though his parentage remains a mystery.

Though Jean’s life is never dull, he grows up knowing little of what lies beyond his local area. Until the day he sets off on his bicycle to dis
Tried it a few times based on glowing reviews but never got into it until recently - once I started appreciating the wry, subtly funny tone of the novel which is not raucous enough to be called a romp, but not very serious either, The Foundling Boy just rolls and one cannot stop turning the pages to get more Jean's (mis)adventures as a boy and later teenager, his luck with the local girls, while his trek through Europe and his friendships with other oddballs who may be much more skilled at decep ...more
Oh wow, what a gorgeous beautiful book. Sometimes you read something that has been translated for the first time, and you just feel so grateful for the wonderful publishing people who have dug out such a gem and brought it to a new audience; this was one of those moments. This story is touching, funny, dramatic just perfect. The translation is excellent, and the book is full of poetry and brilliance. Jean is a wonderful character, who experiences the events of the 1920s and 1930s while trying to ...more
Dec 21, 2014 rated it liked it
A C20 take on "Tom Jones", this novel's original French title of "Le jeune homme vert", denoting the hero Jean's initial natural naivety, has been lost in translation to become, "The Foundling Boy".

Jean is discovered in a Moses basket on the doorstep of a simple, kindly childless couple. The wife Jeanne claims him as her own to bring up, taking a stand against the attempted interference of Mme de Courseau, the imperious lady of the local manor. Jean turns out to be handsome, robust, charming and
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Things are torrid at work at the moment as we hurtle towards the end of the school year, so much as I love a book that challenges me in style and form and content, I just wanted a story to read in bed as I try to wind down at the end of a long day. The Foundling Boy has been just perfect for that. First published in 1975 but only recently translated into English, it is a beautiful coming-of-age story set between the wars in France, thought-provoking enough to be interesting, but easy reading.

Shaz Goodwin
Dec 22, 2013 rated it liked it

I enjoyed the way the story began. Jeanne is dreaming … which mirrors the reality of a baby wailing on the doorstep. The first person she goes to advice is employer Antoine du Corseau. Antoine and his life features heavily in the first half of the book. He drives for three days to visit the intriguing and absent daughter Genevieve. With the story set not long after the ending of WW1, he shares war stories with the people he meets on his stops. He’s bored being back on his estate after the war
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
A baby left in a basket at the door of the caretakers, one legged gardener Albert and his caring wife Jeanne, is where we meet Jean Arnaud, in a coming of age story that drifts between him and the du Courseau family who live in a grand home named La Sauveté in Grangeville, Normandy.

Wondering who this foundling might be, we follow him through his childhood and adolescence, in the shadow of the residents of the grand house, the story sometimes meandering off to the south of France with Antoine du
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I came across this author by browsing in a Barnes & Noble and seeing the sequel to this book, called The Foundling's War. It looked interesting and so decided that I would read the prequel, which is The Foundling Boy. This was one of the most interesting and well written novels I have ever read. I never heard of the author, but after researching him, it turns out he is a well-known French author who has written over 50 works and has earned numerous awards for his writing.

This is a classic coming
Tina Tamman
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is an irritating book. I would have dropped it long ago if it wasn't for my book club. I need to read it for our next meeting. Who knows, maybe it will even provide a good discussion. After all, from what I see, many readers have enjoyed it, and some of my club friends may do so as well.
The novel covers the first 20 years of a French boy's life, beginning in 1919 and ending in 1939. There is a large cast of people he comes across, befriends, is close to, loves, admires, is associated with,
Nov 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Enjoyed the hilariously judgmental omniscient narrator, who would condescendingly tell the reader whether a character's life/story was worth following or not. Also enjoyed the digressive way that Deon narrated the book, skipping from situation to situation, character to character, to paint a tableau of interwar Europe, from London to Italy, Cannes to rural France. Very French in the particular amount of time dedicated to affairs of the heart and wily women. ...more
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great story! I was very upset how the book ended, I did not realize there was a sequel. Thank goodness the translated sequel will be available next month. Can't wait to find out what happens next in Jean's life story. ...more
Robert Kemp
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I found this book in an albergue while walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. It was the perfect book at the perfect time.
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Truly memorable! The author shows great sensitivity in revealing his characters. He also possesses a delightful wit in his observations of human nature.
Read it. You won't be disappointed.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Written in 1975, Michel Deon's novel was translated and published only in 2013 which is too bad as Deon writes a wonderful 'classic" which reminded me of The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling by Henry Fielding. Jean Arnaud is placed in a basket on the doorstep of Jeanne and Albert Arnaud, the caretakers of La Sauvete, the home of the wealthy Antoine de Courseau. Courseau takes constant road trips driving only Bugattis, coming home to his wife only to leave children behind: Genevieve, Antoinette ...more
Keith Miller
May 02, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2021
To all intent and purpose, I should have enjoyed this book: an historical 20th century novel set largely in France between the wars with the ensuing reemergence of Germany. However ..... the writing style became increasingly irritating as the book progressed - the author repeatedly taking time out to tell us what he was not going to delve into further. The book also felt rather disjointed - the early part of the book focusing on an aristocrat driving around France with various liaisons which onl ...more
Daisy L
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was ok
Meh, it had too much unnecessary white-male-gaze for my tastes - the insight into the casually racist and sexist views of the leery main characters didn’t seem to add much to the story but were just tired old tropes of the Madonna/whore dichotomy. I was also annoyed by the unnamed narrator. To give some silver lining, it was interesting to imagine what it was like in rural France during this interwar time period, and I liked the coming-of-age story of a boy who travels and returns home to find h ...more
Lionel Denny
This lovely book is a warm, engaging and truly delightful read. A tale of a young foundling boy, from just after the end of WW1 to the very beginnings of WW2. His search for his natural parents is just one small part of his adventures. It is a tale well told, a really good read.
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this deceptively simple tale of the coming of age of a a French boy found on a door step. Jean is a likeable character who meets and impresses many people he meets on his journey. Looking forward to meeting Jean again in the second novel.
Star Ryan
Jul 21, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Review to come
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. Great story with some truly wonderful characters. I cannot wait for the next book
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this quite awhile ago but want to put it on my list, a kind of French Tom Jones for the twentieth century.
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
A pleasure to read. Only 4 stars because there were several sections that I found a bit slow going, but I really enjoyed the writing style (/translation) and the story itself.
Apr 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Jean Arnaud is the foundling boy, found in a basket one summer night in 1919 on the doorstep of Albert and Jeanne Arnaud. Albert is the gardener for the aristocratic Antoine du Courseau and his family and Jean grows up happily on this estate in Normandy alongside the du Courseau's younger children, Michel who taunts him and Antoinette who adores him.

This is the coming of age story of a naive young man who yearns to escape his narrow provincial world for the adventures the outside world can offe
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: france
The Foundling Boy by Michél Déon (brilliantly translated by Julian Evans) has been brought to the English language by Gallic Books, who sent me a copy to read and review.

It is set in France, in the years between the wars and has a really engaging storyline. In the summer of 1919 a newborn baby is left in a basket outside the home of a childless couple in Normandy. They take him in, call him Jean and raise him as their own in their simple but honest ways. The Foundling Boy is the story of Jean's
Andrew Green
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
"The Foundling Boy", was not the sort of book I would have chosen for myself. Abandoned and adopted babies is not a subject that appealed to me nor is life in France between the wars. However I found it surprisingly enjoyable. It was engrossing, well written and had a style which I suspect, in its original French might have had an element of humour in it. It contained a surprising amount of sex; it seems the French are at it all the time if this book is to be believed. Nevertheless, I found the ...more
Rosie Morgan
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books
Quite fascinating... this summer I happened to pick up (and buy) several books all set in France between the two world wars.
One of my great pleasures is going into an indie bookshop and taking ages to gather a basket of books. Expensive, but I love a 'real', well-written book. This was one on my summer reading shelf.
At first I found it a little slow to start, even put it away in favour of Winter Ghosts, but then I took it out again and was hooked.
It's a story describing life in France as the ol
Alison Evans
Jan 24, 2015 rated it liked it
In 1919 a baby is found on the doorstep of a childless couple, who decide to keep him, and name him Jean. The wealthy family for whom the parents work take an interest in his education. The story is set in rural France and, as he grows up, Jean and his bicycle travel to England and then over Europe and down to Italy. He meets all sorts of unusual characters on his travels and has many adventures. The book ends in 1939 when Jean and a friend are just beginning their military training, and I was s ...more
I liked this book a lot. It creates a real sense of the time and the places. The central character is Jean Arnaud. The central theme of the story is his constant search for the truth about his parentage during the first two decades of his life.

This is a sensitively written family saga which charts Jean's childhood and start of his adulthood. I enjoyed the superb humour which punctuates book throughout. This coupled with the pithy comments from the narrators view of the importance or otherwise of
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Michel Déon was a French novelist and playwright. He adopted the nom de plume Michel Déon, and made it his official name in octobre 1965. He has published over 50 works and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Prix Interallié for his 1970 novel, Les Poneys sauvages (The Wild Ponies). Déon's 1973 novel Un taxi mauve received the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française. His novels ...more

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The Foundling Boy (2 books)
  • The Foundling’s War (The Foundling Boy, #2)

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