The House in Paris


The House in Paris is Elizabeth Bowen's fifth novel. It is set in France and Great Britain following World War I, and its action takes place on a single February day in a house in Paris. In that house, two young children—Henrietta and Leopold—await the next legs of their respective journeys: Henrietta is passing through on her way to meet her grandmother, while Leopold is waiting to meet his mother for the first time. The first and third sections of the novel, both called "The Present," detail what happens in the house throughout the day. The middle section of the book ("The Past") is an imagined chronicle of part of the life of Leopold's mother, Karen Michaelis, revealing the background to the events that occur in Mme Fisher's home on the day. First published in 1935, it was well received by critics past and present, and has received praise from Virginia Woolf and A. S. Byatt. The novel combines techniques of realism and modernism, and was referred to as her "most complex work." Bowen revisits themes and structures familiar from her earlier novels; the tri-partite structure and the ten-year gap between past and present, for instance, had been used earlier in Friends and Relations, but unlike that novel, The House in Paris finds an escape from a tragic past, by way of a "magical child of myths, an archetypal redeemer."
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original title: The House in Paris
language: English
date of publication: 1935
genre: novel
narrative location: Paris
follows: The Death of the Heart
followed by: The Death of the Heart

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