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The Foundling Boy (The Foundling Boy #1)

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3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  180 Ratings  ·  55 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
...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published December 2nd 2013 by Gallic Books (first published 1975)
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(showing 1-30)
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Liviu
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
Mandy
Oct 31, 2013 Mandy 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
Antenna
Dec 21, 2014 Antenna 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
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Lisa
Oct 06, 2014 Lisa 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.

As
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Liz Barnsley
Nov 06, 2013 Liz Barnsley 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 disc
...more
Shaz Goodwin
Dec 22, 2013 Shaz Goodwin rated it liked it
3.5

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
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Claire McAlpine
Jan 22, 2014 Claire McAlpine 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
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Anthony
Apr 13, 2015 Anthony 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 co
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Tina Tamman
Sep 10, 2015 Tina Tamman 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,
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Cat
Nov 12, 2015 Cat 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.
Vicky
Jun 06, 2016 Vicky 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.
Ronnie
Sep 06, 2014 Ronnie 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.
Robert Kemp
Jul 29, 2014 Robert Kemp 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.
Ira
Jan 29, 2017 Ira rated it it was amazing
So Good. So French. So Very Good.
Efranken
Jan 24, 2017 Efranken rated it really liked it
Shelves: ww-ii-fiction
French boy, between WWI and WW II
Carolyn
Apr 08, 2016 Carolyn 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
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Jacqueline
Feb 10, 2014 Jacqueline 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
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Andrew Green
Jul 23, 2015 Andrew Green 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
Becky
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
Rosie Morgan
Oct 01, 2014 Rosie Morgan 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
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Alison Evans
Jan 24, 2015 Alison Evans 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
Andrew
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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Saumya Premchander
Sep 18, 2016 Saumya Premchander rated it liked it
Takes a while to get into this one. I spent the first 100 pages being really annoyed with how many French clichés were crammed into one book. After that though it suddenly took off, and I raced through it wanting to know more. It read very much like Tom Jones, which also got interesting only several chapters in.
I would like to never read again about French men, married to wives they don't care about, obsessed with the brown thighs of women from Martinique. Would be nice never to have to encount
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Jim
Jul 25, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it
In 1919, Jeanne and Albert live in Normandy (France) and work as a house servant and gardener for a wealthy family when they find a newborn baby boy left at their front door. They name him Jean. The book follows Jean's life from birth until age 20 or 21. It's very episodic in a Dickensian way with truly entertaining first person diversions from the narrator who omniscient and unknown, not a character from the book. While the episodes are interesting, the book makes its greatest impression from t ...more
Laura Alderson
Jul 18, 2016 Laura Alderson rated it liked it
Jean is a foundling, discovered on the doorstep of Jeanne and Albert, who bring him up. It chronicles his life as he grows up and become a young man between the wars. The first hundred or so pages are actually about his parents' boss, who takes long trips in his Bugatti down to the south of France. Jean has many adventures and travels to England, within France and Italy, meeting people as he goes. By the end of the novel, however, I was a bit bored, as very little actually happens. You find out ...more
Michael Cayley
Apr 02, 2016 Michael Cayley rated it it was amazing
A delightful picaresque novel about Jean Arnaud, left as a baby on the doorstep of a couple in a Northern French village who adopt him, and his adventures in the period up to the outbreak of WW2. It is loosely inspired by Henry Fielding's Tom Jones, and has something of the atmosphere of that book, with authorial comments and warm-hearted women who take a fairly relaxed attitude to sexual affairs. One of the central characters is an amoral but engaging con-man. The book is full of verve and carr ...more
Susan Zinner
Jul 11, 2014 Susan Zinner rated it really liked it
Old-fashioned (in the best sense of the word) novel about a French boy discovering left as an orphan on the doorstep of a rural couple in 1919; the narrator inserts his opinion in the book and digresses in interesting ways. I found myself thinking occasionally of "Downton Abbey" (although most of this books is set a bit later in time) b/c it considers both the lower- and upper-class life in rural France. Great read...can't wait for the 2nd novel to be translated!
Louise
Nov 19, 2013 Louise rated it did not like it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

I read several books a week but just couldn't get into this book. After weeks of putting it down and trying again unfortunately, for me, it just did not flow easily and seemed to jump so much with very confusing descriptive writing. I am very disappointed as I was really looking forward to reading this book. You never know, in the future I may conquer this read and edit my review!
Calzean
A very enjoyable read of Jean Arnaud, born in 1919 and left on the door step of a kind but childless couple. Jean's life in a Normandy village is simple but safe and happy. He grows into a strong handsome man, travels, meets some unusual characters and learns the complexities of human beings. No one is who you think they are. The book ends with the revelation of who his mother was (no real surprise) and the start of WWII.
Reff Girl
Jul 22, 2015 Reff Girl rated it it was amazing
When I saw that author William Boyd commented on this work, I knew it was going to be a wonderful read. This did not dissapoint. With great story-telling, our young character Jean (a foundling) experiences life between the two wars in France. Tired of over-wrought and discontented characters who can only find solace in drugs, booze and un-edited ramblings--this takes us back to good writing and pleasurable reading that tells a story.
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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
More about Michel Déon...

Other Books in the Series

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

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