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A Simple Heart

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  5,149 ratings  ·  420 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 book
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.…moreYes, definitely. The description here on Goodreads is actually on point; there's nothing graphic in it, so it's safe for young teens.(less)

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Average rating 3.52  · 
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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 c
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, Emm
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
Dec 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So, what’s your take on this emotionally complex study of an elderly woman’s simple credulity?

My own is simply “why CAN’T the Holy Spirit choose to manifest itself to her as an Amazon Parrot?” There are plainly more things in Heaven and Earth than are even Dreamt of in our philosophy!

It was on a warm summer evening in coastal British Columbia several years ago - while I was staying at my Dad’s place - that I finally, after so many years of putting it off, read this classic from the curriculu
Dec 12, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ll give this 3.5
This is a novella by a French writer about a girl named Felicite, it takes place in the mid 1800’s.. Felicite has had a sad past and leaves town and becomes a servant to a widow with two young children.
She never leaves this house, lives her humble life in servitude to this family.
It was a sad little story.
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 ne
"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 Barett
A Simple Heart is a simple story about a selfless woman, who is resigned to life calamities, and who is rewarded at the end for her patience and virtue with eternal peace.

Felicity is not a fortunate woman. Rejection, disappointment, and loss seem to be her lot in life. But all through these misfortunes, she remains selfless, living for others, loving them with a pure, simple heart. Her goodness is trodden upon by the manipulating relatives and her mistress, but her forgiving heart stays true t
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
Connie G
Nov 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"A Simple Heart" is a lovely novella about Felicite, a 19th Century hard-working servant with a kind heart. She had a hard life--losing her parents early, and being jilted by her first love. She worked the rest of her life for a widow, Madame Aubain, who had two children. Her life was one of service, piety, and loss. She never traveled, but learned about the world from her nephew's travels as a cabin boy. She was devoted to the parrot, Loulou. As she became deaf, the talking of the parrot was on ...more
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now this is how you write a short story! Beautiful, moving and sublime story of the life of a simple maid in 19th century France. It's both funny and heartbreaking, and has that inscrutable quality that makes you keep thinking about it and its various layers of meaning, like a prism that radiates light in different colors depending on which way you turn it. ...more
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
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 affa
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 some
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 co
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.
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
Marc Todd
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-fiction
A simple heart - a simple story of a simple life? Perhaps - but I did find myself thinking at times that there must be more to the life of Félicité. The name of the main character means bliss or happiness, and yet, her life is anything but. She is a woman "all empty inside", a woman "made out of wood, driven as if by clockwork" who, in my view could only 'feel' through the experiences of others - as example, Virginie, the girl in her care "...with that singular imagination that is born of true l ...more
Susan Chapek
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-authors
This story roused the same powerful sentiments as Gogol's The Overcoat, with the central character finding a whole, rich inner world where I know I would see only limitations and boundaries.

(This is not the edition I read; I've read it more than once, the first time long ago, I believe in a collection of Flaubert's stories and novellas.)

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.
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. ...more
Jun 29, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, france
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 salute 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.
Jovana Autumn
Such a simple and touching story.

Sometimes you don't need a lot of things to be happy in life. Even though religion and domestic life haven't given me the same peace and serenity I respect people who find joy in them.
I liked the book overall, and Flaubert has a beautiful writing style that won me over in Madame Bovary. Probably the next book I'll read from him will be Sentimental Education, to shorten my physical to-read pile.
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. ...more
Dec 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Flaubert takes us to 19th century France, where a simple heart beats in the body of the house servant Felicite. The home where she serves is brought to life by Flaubert’s expert realism. “The dilapidated wall paper trembled in the drafts.”

The bright spot (literally) in Felicite’s life is the parrot Loulou, a castoff from her mistress, who becomes for her a symbol of transcendence.

This is Felicite’s story, but feels like it’s told more from the point of view of those she serves, something like, “
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. ...more
I loved Felicite -- poor thing....
5 Stars

I’m somewhat surprised that this story only rates a 3.53. I guess that just goes to reaffirm that my bubble is a little off plumb, when compared to the main stream.

The writing is excellent and fascinating in its simplicity. Flaubert gives us a truly simple woman with a humble heart and soul. Yet, he paints her in a way that to me is heroic. She has nothing, no money, no property, and no education. She is a loving and caring woman with an unassuming nature. She is a servant for a widow an
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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,

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