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The Pleasing Hour

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  1,648 ratings  ·  161 reviews
The first novel from a new literary voice brimming with sensitivity and lyricism, The Pleasing Hour is the story of an American in Europe whose coming-of-age defies all our usual conceptions of naivete and experience. Fleeing a devastating loss, Rosie takes a job as an au pair with a Parisian family and soon finds the comfort and intimacy she longs for with their children ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 3rd 2000 by Scribner (first published September 1st 1999)
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3.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,648 ratings  ·  161 reviews

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Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
While I found King's first effort well-written and compelling in the beginning, I was left disappointed and thoroughly annoyed by the time I finished it. The plot is uneven and rambling with many background stories of peripheral characters that are left incomplete and therefore frustratingly superfluous. Furthermore, even the main characters are never fully realized. We are given a rather complete history of Nicole, for example, her mother and childhood, only to be left with virtually no explana ...more
Renee Braverman
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was ok

The Pleasing Hour

by Lily King

Rosie goes to Paris to be an au pair. Her baggage includes a motherless childhood and a teen pregnancy deliberately and secretly planned in order to give her barren sister a much-desired child. Being an au pair in Paris follows the delivery of the baby and is designed to separate herself from the baby she cannot acknowledge.

Rosie settles into her role as an au pair with the Tivot family, Nicole and Marc and their three children. We learn the history of each
Feb 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
Although King kept my attention with her story, I found some of the transitions awkward and the relationships between the characters somewhat unclear. We don’t know why Nicole is so resentful of Rosie from their first meeting or why she feels so close and trusting of her at the end. The bull fighting scene is very good as she depicts the same bull-killing scenes through the eyes of each of the characters. Symbolically, something could probably be made of this and the difficult problems that have ...more
Aug 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
After I read Euphoria I went in search of more of Lily King’s novels and happened on her first, The Pleasing Hour. I read about two thirds of it and put it down. It was a meandering novel that did not seem to know its business. It kept dropping characters I cared about to pick up on others I had no interest in. I still look forward to reading more of King’s work, as Euphoria was riveting.
Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very different from euphoria. Loved the dynamics. I like character driven stories. A few puzzles persist. Why did Nicole marry Marc in the first place: because he resembled the man she loved, from behind? What did Nicole do all day? She leaves the house, activities are implied but never confirmed. She is meant to be an enigma, so I guess it works. I've read other reviews just now. Lots of readers frustrated, but one question that was answered for me regarding Nicole's cold reception to Rosie in ...more
Apr 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle
The kick-off premise of the book was a bit overdramatic for what it needed to be to launch such a story, but that was almost forgivable after all. The characters were finely sketched, if incompletely (and this seems to be on purpose). The unignorable "summer romance" thread of the narrative made this sit on this reader's tongue like a strange fusion of a Babysitter's Club Super Special meets something Literary.

The true mastery of this book was creating a dastardly heroine that is pitiable becaus
Jul 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many of my happy buttons were pushed early on in this novel: France through the eyes of an American! Quirks and struggles of learning/speaking French in France! Did I mention that I like reading about France and French ;-) While it carried me through quite swiftly in the first half, I found myself skimming parts of Rosie's internal diaglogue until the end.
Robin SD
Sep 17, 2018 rated it liked it
This book started out with an interesting plot and ended up being not pleasing. Lily King is a good writer, in how she describes people, scenery, action. However, this book as a whole needs help with character development and a focus to the story lines.

The basic plot line is about a young woman, Rosie, who doesn't go to college but instead goes to France to be an au pair. Then she gets entangled with the father of the family (not an original theme). and leaves early to take care of the the elde
Nora Black
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book will capture your soul, you will grit your teeth, lament...find the snug warm emotion only family can give you, trip on the unsuspecting trials of sexual identity, bask in the heady light of burgeoning love. This novel is a journey rather than a story, a layered gateaux of sweet longing, bitter regrets and the strange duties deep affection puts on the ego. Destination, after all, is often not a place but a feeling of belonging, a sense of achievement a niche you fit into. For every hea ...more
Jun 29, 2015 rated it liked it
There is a lot to like in this book. It it well plotted the reader is interested in the characters. The question I have to ask my self is this: why didn't I like the book more than I did? I think that Rosie at least for part of the story is suffering a bit from postpartum depression. This deadens the intensity of her feelings and as a consequence makes the book a bit dead too. Also there were too many lose ends for my taste. The lack of closure is very realistic but did not increase the entertai ...more
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The beginning was good and I was interested in all the characters. There were a handful of moments where the writer really surprised me with how good she is. Then it drags, becomes unfeasible and ends as abruptly as most French films. Not worth staying up late to finish...
Amy Geriak
Aug 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written novel from the perspectives of several characters. The story centers around an American girl working as an au pair in Paris. Lovely, and just my kind of book -- a perfect fit for me. I'd highly recommend it.
Aug 12, 2009 rated it did not like it
This novel has received rave reviews, but I found it rather uninteresting. A young woman becomes an au pair for a Parisian family to escape her past & ends up falling in love with the father (I guess; even that's not altogether clear).
Mar 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
Potentially could have been great...found the story very choppy and underdeveloped. Left not fully understanding Nicole's history and the point of it cold to Rosie at their first meeting and so trusting and friendly at the end, and not sure how that happened.
Feb 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Well-paced, bittersweet novel about a young American woman working as an au pair in France for the year.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is as about as good as book can get. It's simply told yet every moment is packed with such information both of the character, their relationships to others and their surroundings that you only end up reading a couple of pages at a time. You need to let the moments King creates sink in.

It is ostensibly the story of Rosie, whose mother died before she was a year old. She has a baby that she leaves with her sister (the story behind that is fodder for a whole other complete novel) and escapes t
Martha Alami
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Lisa Gennusa-O'Connell
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could give this novel more than 5 stars. I am discouraged from writing anything myself for fear that it will never measure up to such fine work but I'm inspired too, to try.

I met Lily King and she inscribed this book, her debut novel, for me. I recently listened to Euphoria, her latest, and wasn't struck the same way as I was with this one. I wish I could meet with her again after reading The Pleasing Hour; I had unfortunately not read her before the presentation I attended. Besides an
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Lily King’s debut novel. Her writing is so clear and concise. I love the way that she developed the main character Rosie- a very strong female character with much to reconcile over the course of the story. Loved this book as much as her most recent, Euphoria. P. 145 “ But deceit is too exhausting; it makes endless demands.”
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous! Accurately captures the abject loneliness of being an au pair in a country where you don't speak the language and you have no friends. Character portraits are excellent, setting descriptions are short but exquisitely detailed. You can feel the weather, the barge, see the vineyards, the lavender. Even though its partly a coming of age story, its so much more. An "adult" book.
Guida Mattison
I was disappointed in this book. I have loved Euphoria and another of her books, but this one I couldn’t get into. I couldn’t connect with the main character and why she was so detached, why she made the decisions she did. I also couldn’t get into her French family. I thought the flashbacks were interesting but then nothing was really done with them. Euphoria is still one of my favorites.
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
An American in Paris. But not as it sounds. Rosie becomes an au pair in Paris, escaping her recent struggles. The children's mother is an enigma to her, which she wants to figure out. A different, but engaging read.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
A trash fire. How Lily King progressed from this book (a disaster) to Father of the Rain (excellent) is a mystery to me. There isn't a point here, nothing really happens and the book crawls to the finish line.
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I see that this book about a young American woman who goes to nanny for a family in Paris has not received the best reviews, but I thought it was beautifully written. Personally, I liked it better than Euphoria but I'm guessing this one will not be everyone's cup of tea!
More like 3.5 stars being the author's first novel.
A good story and good writing. The story deals with the struggle of 19 years old Rosie searching for love is touching, however the novel doesn't live up to the author's more recent work.
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Odd book. Story of American nanny in France. Complicated life of the nanny and her French family.
Trees Johnson
I never really enjoyed a single minute of this book, yet I kept reading it to the end.
Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
King treads familiar domestic territory here, but her prose is so achingly gorgeous, her insights so sharp, and her technique so good that I found this book difficult to put down.
Sarah Ellison
Jul 29, 2017 rated it liked it
The intersection of many different unfulfilled lives when an American teen flees to France to become an au pair. Interesting look at many different points of view as the year unfolds.
Bella Fitzpatrick
Oct 18, 2018 rated it liked it
I really liked this book although I definitely prefer Euphoria by the same author
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Lily King grew up in Massachusetts and received her B.A. in English Literature from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her M.A. in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. She has taught English and Creative Writing at several universities and high schools in this country and abroad. Lily's new novel, Euphoria, was released in June 2014. It has drawn significant acclaim so far, bei ...more
“Who can explain why a few words in a particular tone can clear acres of sudden unfamiliarity? ...Would that person look up and grin, and find him grinning back, full of the sweet miraculous relief of having been perfectly received? ...He was saying, if it's not carrots, it's something else; he was saying, How futile life is, the slicing of carrots, the eating of meals; he was saying, How wonderful life is, to come home to the security of carrots in the kitchen; he was saying, Another day come to its devastating close. He was saying all this and I heard him because he was like me, entirely ambivalent about life. It was almost a question: Should I be full of joy or despair, Rosie? Joy, my face always replied to him, not because I felt sure that was the answer, but because I'd begun to want to make it his.” 2 likes
“So much of this trip had been spent gazing at spectacular sights, which always filled me, as this one did now, with agonizing frustration. Why couldn't I simply accept and enjoy beauty? What was it that stirred up this terrible discomfort? ...We agreed it was the impermanence, the inability to possess, the reminder of death.” 1 likes
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