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The Awakening of Miss Prim

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  6,035 ratings  ·  1,094 reviews
In this #1 international bestseller, a young woman leaves everything behind to work as a librarian in a remote French village, where she finds her outlook on life and love challenged in every way.

Prudencia Prim is a young woman of intelligence and achievement, with a deep knowledge of literature and several letters after her name. But when she accepts the post of private l
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published July 8th 2014 by Atria Books (first published April 4th 2013)
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Susana She has converted to catholicism, so now they can marry. We know this because in the final chapter it is stated that it's a Friday. Next she's orderin…moreShe has converted to catholicism, so now they can marry. We know this because in the final chapter it is stated that it's a Friday. Next she's ordering a cappuccino and prosciutto (cured ham) and the waiter, who already knows her, is confused and says she must be mistaken and suggests toast with jam instead. She remembers and then agrees. (In case you don't know, catholics don't eat meat on Fridays during Lent, and some even abstain from it throughout the Fridays of the year). The final "clue" is the ad she's been sent, which was obviously meant for her. So she is returning to San Ireneo. (less)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  6,035 ratings  ·  1,094 reviews

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Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There's a bit of an "awakening" associated with finishing this book. You're suddenly aware that you wasted all that time on a painfully mediocre novel when you could have been reading something else.
I think the author embarked upon this writing journey with a romance novel in mind, wanted to make it feel as if it had depth, and also as if she had depth. She then set about adding a dash of whimsy and quirk, hoping to garner praise for being "original", only to have this fall apart on so many leve
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am failing in my attempt to review this book. And it's so necessary because there are number of negative reviews about this book which are terribly unjustified.

I'm going to have to come back when I've had a little time to really digest it.

In the meantime, this book takes the reader to a place that is so idyllic and literary but it could only exist in our dreams but oh how much we wish it really did exist here.

I really hope that this author is going to be writing more books like this. I think
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ugh! Life is too short for such absolute nonsense. Miss Prim (me thinks the author has named her not wisely, but too well) is a sort of look at what's wrong with modern life and love. The author has many ideas to throw at you the basic one is you can not love another until you love God. This is a fine idea, If she had stated that baldly from the first, I wouldn't have cared so much, but she makes you find it in tons of drivel. I guess you are supposed to be as obtuse as Miss Prim, with her high- ...more
Primrose Jess
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm actually quite close to giving it a 5 star rating... I'll probably change it when I reread it. This book was completely unexpected in the story it gave me. Here I was thinking it would be a delightful, light long weekend vacation type of read. It was a delightful long weekend vacation read but it is anything but "light". Fenollera captures the themes of literature, philosophy, the search for happiness, and love all in the smart pages. She then brings in the notion of a small town completely ...more
Christina Baehr
This book astonished, excited, and ultimately really disappointed me.

This Spanish novel, which amazingly is a best seller, sets out to convince you that in the perfect Chestertonian Christian community, people will have home-based businesses, teach their children dead languages, and everyone will feast constantly on pastries and rare teas while discussing great art and great books. In short, I am the perfect audience for this book. Where so I sign up?!

By the end of the book, my husband and I wa
Cindy Rollins
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
This is a hard book to rate. All the ideas I love to read about are there. I really want to hug the author and thank her for throwing this out there. But I often found myself annoyed while reading it. Perhaps, it was a bit sanctimonious even while trying so hard not to be. I enjoyed the town of San Ireono and yes, it would be a great place to live with all the tea and cakes and conversation. I would have liked it more if the characters were more developed than the ideals. Nevertheless, good job ...more
Some people will love this book and some will not and I can understand both. If you are practical and logical and to the point you may not - if you are philosophical and ideological you may. I liked parts and others frustrated me. I guess that makes me a bit unstable! The time period this is set in is unknown to me. Since it takes place in an enclave that rejects many modern conveniences, I just have no idea. There are cars. And there are monks. There is a lot of talk about Greek and Latin gramm ...more
Once in a great while there comes a time when all the planets align and you stumble upon a book that touches you deeply on so many levels. I'm a better person for reading Miss Prim. This book is aptly named. I enjoyed the gentle unfolding of wisdom of the ages, with a touch of love, and a whole lot of truth In education and from the great books, and a full embrace of the simple lifestyle in its healing the ills of society and individuals. I will be revisiting this book again and I hope, with fin ...more
Diane Barnes
3.5 stars. I had one teeny little problem with this one, and I take full responsibility for it, because it is surely not the author's fault. It read to me like a fairy tale, taking place in a European village populated by people who had come there to form a Utopia of sorts. They wanted to escape from the noise and busyness of modern life. There were cars, but no cell phones or computers or TV, so the time period was vague. Everyone was kind and courteous and civilized. No one seemed to have mone ...more
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is rather lovely. In fact given the rather unsympathetic character that is the titular Miss Prim it is maybe surprising just how lovely this actually is. It seems to be one of the stream of books about book lovers that seem to be coming out with increasing frequency right now, maybe because both writers and publishers think that bibliophiles are the only ones actually purchasing books beyond the Christmas rush these days? Who knows? Whatever may be the case there certainly have been a spate ...more
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
"Four female Ghostbusters?! The feminists are taking over!"

Oh, dear. This is awkward. You see, this book is a major favorite of a friend of mine, so, naturally, I expected to at least like it. And instead . . .


Good news first: The setting is lovely. Truly, lovely. And deftly evoked: just enough detail, but not too much. The attitudes of debate and discussion in the book, problematic though I found most of them, at least provided a stimulating intellectual atmosphere that does challenge
It's intriguing, but for me, too clever. Too clever by halves.

Perhaps I find it hard to imagine such a place. With such options for dialog and with such a high accepted attitude of good intent and mannerly kindness.

Miss Prim and her employer both had their moments. But overall, I seldom felt that either one of them truly approached the practical applications of such a home place. Some of the other characters were highly interesting, maybe more so than the job duties and placements composite of M
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book had sooooooo much potential. I really, really wanted to like it. There were aspects that I *did* like very much. But there was just something about it that irked me while I was reading. The dialogue was stiff and seemed forced (maybe it was the translation?). The ideas portrayed by the characters about happiness and truth and beauty, while I happen to agree with all of them, were heavy-handed and off-putting. I didn't really see why the Man was never given a name, and it got weirder as ...more
Sally Schmidt
I received a free advance copy of this book from NetGalley.

Normally I'll read a 300 page book in a few hours, or over the course of a day or two, but this book took me a while to finish because I kept putting it down. The publisher's blurb gave me an idea of what to expect from this story, and I have no problem with books promoting the idyllic, small town, old-fashioned life over modern cities with hustle and bustle where people often feel like they lack personal connection. My favorite examples
Diane S ☔
3.5 There is something of an old-fashioned feel to the way this book s narrated. Miss Prim herself, is very correct, very determined and opinionated person. When she arrives in San Ireneo to take up her new post as a librarian to the man in the wing chair, he is never named, she finds children who can recognize passages of the Aeneid and learning other things that generally children do not learn. The residents in the town are quirky, all people who have come from other places who had worked at j ...more
Mar 09, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Put me in mind of that classic Dorothy Parker review: Constant Weader fwowwed up. Nauseating!
I would give this less than 1 star if I could. But in a nut shell it is twee, nostalgic in a terrible UKIP'y way, places the past in an utterly rose tinted mythic setting that places in particular dead christian theologians in an exalted position and is in short utterly divorced from any sense of progress and excitement about the world about us. Worse still it does it all in a subtle quite readable way
Mar 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, favorites
This is a truly amazing book. I loved about everything about the book, the characters, the story, the little insights that are shared, and above all, the little town where they live. It is the dream of anybody who has ever thought about getting rid of their regular job and move to a community where values like friendship and caring for each other are more important than money, careers and prestige. "[T]here was something hidden beneath the surface of the community. In the area around San Ireneo ...more
I have to confess, the moment I heard about The Awakening of Miss Prim, I could not wait to read it. For a book lover like me, the idea of being holed up as a librarian in a rustic, quaint and idyllic town was like a dream come true.
The village of San Ireneo de Arnois was a bit like something from a fairytale. The village, captures the ideals that many of us who oppose the fast-pace contemporary life would prefer. It is an enchanting, simple place that takes the reader back in time.
The characte
Barbara Pezzini
Feb 15, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is the most historically inexact, conservative, patronising and badly written piece of faff that I have had the misfortune to read in a long time. It is an insult to women readers, women writers, women scholars and all humans of some intelligence. It makes '50 Shades of grey' look edgy and interesting by comparison. I wish I could return it to the bookshop and I wish I had the 3 hours of my life back that I have misspent reading it. ...more
Oct 27, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty lame, really. There was no build up of plot, characters or overall storyline. I found it extremely tiring and pointless. Lots of words, which led to nothing meaningful. No "aha" moments, not particularly wonderful writing style.

It was a waste of time, really.
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

"Wanted: a feminine spirit quite undaunted by the world to work as a librarian for a gentleman and his books. Able to live with dogs and children. Preferably without work experience. Graduates and postgraduates need not apply."

Miss Prudencia Prim, quite undaunted by her lack of experience with dogs and children, and in possession of a number of degrees, presents herself to the gentleman advertiser looking for someone to organise his extensive private library, secure in the knowledge that she is

this was good. little provoking but good.

the second half of the book... I felt like flying. it was inspiring

at the beginning of the book, my problem was that the story( even if it was charming) kind of felt forced. it was like reading some weird form of Chesterton philosophy and as much I respect the man, it sometimes feels too much, you can't consume him in a big amount and in that way this book seemed like that. in the first half of the book, there was soo much of frustration reading this,
Samantha B
Feb 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This was, like, a love letter to good philosophy in book form. In entertaining book form. In it's-not-preaching-about-philosophy form. In the-plot-and-characters-could-stand-alone form. And I, as an avowed philosophy-theology nerd...ate it up.

I mean, it was Chesterton, Dante, Thomas Aquinas, the Roman poets, Dostoyevsky, Lewis, St. Augustine, and Tolkien, plus a bunch of other philosophical ideas that I don't know who they belong to, but that I recognized and loved, ALL IN ONE BOOK. One FIC
San Ireneo de Arnois is a generically European village that feels like it’s been frozen in about 1950: it’s the sort of place that people who are beaten down by busy city life retreat to so they can start creative second careers. Prudencia Prim comes here to interview for a job as a librarian, having read a rather cryptic job advertisement. Her new employer, The Man in the Wingchair (never known by any other name), has her catalogue his priceless collection of rare books, many of them theologica ...more
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is somewhere between a 3.5 and a 4 star book. I loved the setting of San Ireneo where the residents strive to preserve the manners, customs and gentility of a bygone time. They greet guests with tea or coffee and hot chocolate and cakes. Everyone is well read and independent. Thecharacters are wonderfully drawn and you can't help but be drawn into their lives. The main character, Miss Prim, is at times a little over the top and prone to taking people up the wrong way. But this is a really e ...more
Julie  Durnell
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A most intriguing sort of book I've read in a long time. Miss Prim is well educated but still finding her way in life when she answers the advertisement for a librarian. She is hired to catalog her employers vast library and immerses herself in The Man in the Wing Chair's eclectic household and the quasi-Utopian village of San Ireneo. I found Miss Prim hard to figure out, at times straightforward and brusque and other times wishy-washy emotionally vague. The cast of village people, (mainly the H ...more
Neil (or bleed)
I like some ideals written in this book.
Nelleke Plouffe
I liked this book, but so many people have raved about it that I think my expectations for it were too high.
Dec 09, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit
Abysmal. There was not a single thing I liked about this book. I basically 'hate-read' it after I realized (very early on) how bad it was-- I just had to see if it was really as wretched as I thought. (It was.)

So. Things I hated: the terrible affectation of having the main character, Miss Prim, call her employer/love interest "The Man in the Wing Chair"... for the entire book. He is never given a name, even in her thoughts. When she meets his mother, she calls her "The Man in the Wing Chair's Mo
Lara Lleverino
Themes: Adventure, integrity, free will, education, classical education, dialectic education, romance, true love, cuisine, simple living, isolationism, commune, regrets, hard choices, community.

If you like these books you might like The Awakening of Miss Prim: Little Women , Little Men and Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott (alternative educational choices); Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (integrity in romance), Mitford Series by Jan Karon (simple community and good food), The Harvester by Gene Strat
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Nature, in Her infinite awesomeness, can provide solace even when you’re stuck in the house. As a matter of fact, the numbers suggest that...
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“You say you're looking for beauty, but this isn't the way to achieve it, my dear friend. You won't find it while you look to yourself, as if everything revolved around you. Don't you see? It's exactly the other way around, precisely the other way around. You mustn't be careful, you must get hurt. What I am trying to explain, child, is that unless you allow the beauty you seek to hurt you, to break you and knock you down, you'll never find it.” 23 likes
“So seek beauty, Miss Prim. Seek it in silence, in tranquillity; seek it in the middle of the night and at dawn. Pause to close doors while you seek it, and don't be surprised if it doesn't reside in museums or in palaces. Don't be surprised if, in the end, you find beauty to be not in Something but Someone.” 22 likes
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