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A Simple Heart

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  4,323 ratings  ·  339 reviews
'She decided she would teach him to speak and he was very soon able to say, 'Pretty boy!', 'Your servant, sir!' and 'Hail Mary!''

With pathos and humour, Flaubert imagines the unexamined life of a servant girl.

Introducing Little Black Classics: 80 books for Penguin's 80th birthday. Little Black Classics celebrate the huge range and diversity of Penguin Classics, with
Paperback, Little Black Classics #45, 56 pages
Published February 26th 2015 by Penguin Classics (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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Average rating 3.53  · 
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Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Simple Heart is a heartrending sincere story of a maid, Félicité Barette, and her kind-hearted and forthright life, even when faced with abuse, poverty, loss and loneliness. Gustave Flaubert wrote this short story under encouragement from his good friend and author George Sand. The challenge was to create the main protagonist as someone very different from the satirical and corruptible characters in his previous novels, such as Madame Bovary.

The vivid images of the historic towns and
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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,
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is the breath of a (simple) soul?
George Gurdjieff used to say that very few people have souls, one is not born with a soul, but only with a seed which can grow into a soul-which may not grow. One has to create the right soil, the right climate for it to grow, to bloom. But, how to provoke the spring to come to you so that your soul can flower?
For Felicite part, a state of simple soul is an innocent and silent state, utterly relaxed and blissfully unaware of her own awareness. She lives her
May 27, 2015 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
"In her mind, the one became associated with the other, the parrot becoming sanctified by connection with the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit in turn aquiring added life and meaning."
- Gustave Flaubert, A Simple Heart


Vol N 45 of my Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set. This volume contains Flaubert's story "A Simple Heart" or "The Parrot". It was translated by by Roger Whitehouse in 2005. The story appeared first in Flaubert's collection Three Tales in 1877.

The story relates the life of Barette
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
Luís C.
A good Flaubert but not the best in my opinion.
It follows the life of a woman string of misfortunes: first she lives an unhappy childhood, then found a job with a widow and her two children she focuses but they quickly leave the house , then it's his nephew's turn to die and so on..
What is to be saluted is of course the author's pen: the descriptions are very realistic and the writing magnificent.
A tale that reads quickly and makes you want to rediscover Flaubert.
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
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
"Mistress and servant embraced each other, uniting their grief in a kiss which made them equal."

A história enternecedora de Félicité e do seu Loulou que inspirou o romance de 1984 de Julian Barnes, Flaubert's Parrot.
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novella length story tells of the life of Madame Aubain’s housemaid, Felicite. Having had a hard, and difficult childhood, Felicite does everything, for very little money, and is extremely faithful to her mistress. Although we hear of her past, and a lost love affair, by the time Felicite joins Madame Aubain’s household, she looks ageless and has a simple life and a simple heart.

Flaubert writes a beautiful portrait of a normal, difficult life. Felicite is not an aristocrat, having love
Michelle Curie
A sober, quiet little story that was surprisingly hard-hitting. Set in France in the 19th century, this is about Felicité, a poor servant girl, who seems to be everything Madame Bovary wasn't.

Felicité was betrayed and shunned by her lover when she was young, and ends up looking after two children in a household where she serves as a maid. Through Flaubert's precise and detailed writing it is so easy to feel for her, a woman not well treated by destiny, but with so much love to give. There's
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It is simple (as the title suggests) and short. However, it has a lovely pace, is evocative and has strong characterisation.
Viji  (Bookish endeavors)
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
Jacob Overmark
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Is Felicité a name that implies happiness?

We will never know. Felicité could feel pain and sorrow, love and affection, but happiness seemed to be something destined for others and she did not worry much about it.
But she was content, in her own way – and in the way Flaubert portrays her life it resembles a lot of other young women of her time. Climbing the social ladder is not something you just do, it requires skills, a bit of cunning and good looks – then you maybe will find a husband who can
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 05, 2013 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, ...more
A novella about the sad life of a servant. It's well-written and bleak (which is mostly a good thing for books as far as I'm concerned), but I didn't find it fully engaging.
Liz Janet
Jan 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
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.
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.
Kelly Furniss
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
A thoughtful novella about a housemaid called Felicite who is a very honest, devoted employee to Madame Aubain. Felicite sadly experiences tragedy after tragedy but just accepts it as her 'given lot' in life & doesn't let it distract her from her duties. She leads such a simplistic life but never thinks it bleak. As she resiliently powers on she focusses on her faith & projecting love to animals, family and those around her never expecting anything in return. She is content with the ...more
Jun 05, 2010 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
Review in English | Reseña en Español

2.5 out of 5 stars.

This book was a bit… meh. I was disappointed as I had expected a great story from Flaubert, something along the lines of the short story tradition of the 19th century and even more so as this is French literature. I was thinking probably of Maupassant. And it is not that the writing nor the premise are bad… is just that the story is boring and I could not connect at all with the main character, Felicité. A Simple Heart is the story of her
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
Nov 17, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.4 stars. The life story of a simple, good-hearted, hard-working young woman, jilted by a potential husband, who becomes a servant for an upper-class French family in the early 1800's. Felicite' suffers a number of losses through her life, but remains completely loyal to the lady of the house, Mme. Aubain. This is a short, accessible piece of realist fiction from Flaubert, for those of us who have tried and failed to complete Madame Bovary, but would like to try a bit more of Flaubert. Having ...more
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
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)
Full review to come!
Jan 06, 2015 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

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
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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,
“Having no intercourse with anyone, she lived in the torpid state of a sleep-walker.” 14 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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