A Simple Heart
In A Simple Heart, the poignant story that inspired Julian Barnes' Flaubert's Parrot, Félicité, a French housemaid, approaches a lifetime of servitude with human-scaled but angelic aplomb. No other author has imparted so much beauty and integrity to so modest an existence. Flaubert's "great saint" endures loss after loss by embracing the rich, true rhythms of life: the comfort of domesticity, the solace of the Church, and the depth of memory. This novella showcases Flaubert's perfectly honed realism: a delicate counterpoint of daily events with their psychological repercussions. "Flaubert is diagnosis," Ezra Pound wrote, "the whole of Flaubert, the whole fight for the novel as 'histoire morale contemporaine' was a fight against maxims, against abstractions, a fight back toward a human and/or total conception."
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I was a bit bored while reading this book, but after finishing it I came to appreciate it. The message is sweet - happiness found in the simple things. I admire Felicite and her simplicity - this is a book I can turn to when life may not be going the way I want it to, and remind myself of the insignificance of life's daily complications.