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The House at Belle Fontaine
     

The House at Belle Fontaine

5.0 1
by Lily Tuck
 

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“‘Ice’ encompasses whole worlds, the landscape of the heart imposed upon the landscape of Antarctica.”—Kirkus Reviews

The elegantly conceived, intimate stories of The House at Belle Fontaine span the better part of the twentieth century and almost every continent, revealing apprehensions, passions, secrets, and

Overview


“‘Ice’ encompasses whole worlds, the landscape of the heart imposed upon the landscape of Antarctica.”—Kirkus Reviews

The elegantly conceived, intimate stories of The House at Belle Fontaine span the better part of the twentieth century and almost every continent, revealing apprehensions, passions, secrets, and tragedies among lovers, spouses, landlords and tenants, and lifelong friends. In her crisp and penetrating prose, Tuck delicately probes at the lives of her characters as they navigate exotic locales and their own hearts: an artist learns that her deceased husband had an affair with their young houseguest; a retired couple strains to hold together their forty-year-old marriage on a ship bound for Antarctica; and a French family flees to Lima in the 1940s with devastating consequences for their daughter’s young nanny.

All published or soon to be in prestigious literary quarterlies including the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2011, these tales make up a crowning collection by one of our most revered American authors.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The 10 stories in the latest collection from National Book Award–winner Tuck (for her novel The News from Paraguay) are compact, intense, and finely crafted. Tuck opens private windows into the lives of women in foreign lands, often on their own after unsuccessful relationships and often set in the past. Creating a decoupage of images and brief exchanges, Tuck pieces together her characters’ stories indirectly, with an economy of words, as in “Pérou,” when an au pair is raped by the family’s chauffeur: “More things tear and break. Poor Jeanne.” This style sometimes gives the writing an opaque quality, as in “My Flame,” when a middle-aged woman thinks back on her discovery of her husband’s betrayal after his death. But the method packs a punch. From blood on the ice around seals encountered by an aging couple on a trip to the Antarctic “looking like paint splashed on a canvas” in “Ice,” to the fatal car crash of another woman’s ex-husband, witnessed by her young tenant and his girlfriend, in “Lucky,” violence is an accepted part of life to the characters who inhabit these stories. These women, unsatisfied with their lives, go searching for answers to their longing, and though they do not find them, the reader understands that the act of striking out away from the known is somehow, itself, enough. Agent: Georges Borchardt, Georges Borchardt Literary Agency. (May)
From the Publisher

"Tuck packs a small universe and decades of emotional history into each story."—Entertainment Weekly (A-)

"Impressive . . . Evocative stories of beautiful language and masterful economy . . . Tuck [has an] unflinching eye for detail and faithful ear for dialogue bring. . . . These striking, compact narratives are reminiscent of the exquisite short stories of Edith Pearlman . . . [and feature] a rich complexity the magnetically draws in the reader. We become intimate witnesses to these private lives falling apart and, in some cases, coming back together."—The Boston Globe

"For me, the most thrilling short stories conjure the psychological depth and chronological sweep typical of the novel. The ten stories in Lily Tuck's The House at Belle Fontaine all do this, their remorseless sentences meticulously deploying the powers of implication. . . . Her stories explain no coincidence, justify no twist of fate, and let no character escape the absurd workings of memory, whim, and desire. . . . Writers adamant about proportions are too unusual these days, all the more reason to celebrate The House at Belle Fontaine."—The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

"Tuck proves she is gifted in the short form with stories reaching far into the physical and emotional senses. . . . Tuck's agility and grace as a storyteller are quietly evident throughout her impressive collection. This is a writer at the top of her form."—Library Journal (starred review)

"Compact, intense, and finely crafted . . . Packs a punch . . . Tuck opens private windows into the lives of women in foreign lands. . . . These women, unsatisfied with their lives, go searching for answers to their longing, and though they do not find them, the reader understands that the act of striking out away from the known is somehow, itself, enough."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Tuck's fiction is filled with strong worldly women who travel or live wherever they want—whether their men join them or not. Her work is always elegantly concise, capturing intimacies and emotions with just a few words of description and telling dialogue. . . . Tuck's fundamental focus [is] on the vicissitudes of relationships between men and women—and in this she is a master."—Shelf Awareness

“Remarkable for its technical expertise . . . Impressive work from a virtuoso.”—Kirkus Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Emily Cooke
[Tuck's] somewhat showily modest sentences, describing what happens but not what it means, what is said but not what anybody thinks, add up in a few excellent stories to an eerily dignified mood, a complex and antinostalgic sense of what it is like to be old and looking back, nothing to do now.
"Compact, intense, and finely crafted . . . Packs a punch . . . Tuck opens private windows into the lives of women in foreign lands. . . . These women, unsatisfied with their lives, go searching for answers to their longing, and though they do not find them, the reader understands that the act of striking out away from the known is somehow, itself, enough."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Remarkable for its technical expertise . . . Impressive work from a virtuoso.”—Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Death haunts this dark collection of 10 stories from Tuck (I Married You for Happiness, 2011, etc.). Ella is an American divorcee raising her children in France in the title story. She's a tenant on the estate of one of the richest (and oldest) men in the country. Her arrival coincided with a horrendous plane crash nearby; hundreds died. Ella has been summoned to dinner with her landlord on a cold winter's night: The story is suffused in existential dread. That same dread affects Maud in "Ice." She and husband Peter, retirees, are on an Antarctic cruise. Peter's nighttime disappearance, re-awakening her old fears, is far more frightening than the surrounding icebergs. "Lucky" is more complicated. Six characters' lives intersect; the model is the play/movie Six Degrees of Separation. An alcoholic crashes his car and dies; that's the heart of a story remarkable for its technical expertise. That expertise is also evident in "Sure and Gentle Words." It begins with a German professor's mysterious and fatal fall from a train in 1911, touches lightly on two momentous sexual encounters and one world war, and ends some 20 years later with the professor's son interpreting that fall in his film. Dislocation is a recurrent theme. An American couple discovers that going native in Thailand can have a boomerang effect: It's not pretty. ("Bloomsday in Bangkok"). "Pérou" offers a more extreme example of cultural dislocation. A young French nanny travels with her employer to South America in 1940 to avoid the war. Her fate there seems almost gratuitously cruel. There's nothing cruel about Chingis in "The Riding Teacher," though he's a descendant of one of the great killer conquerors of history, Genghis Khan. All that this gentle, unhappy man has inherited is superb horsemanship. Leave contemporary cruelty to Mark, the unfaithful husband in "My Flame," who takes shocking advantage of his vulnerable niece in a story that burns with a wicked flame indeed. Impressive work from a virtuoso.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802120168
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
04/23/2013
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are Saying About This

“Remarkable for its technical expertise . . . Impressive work from a virtuoso.”—Kirkus Reviews

Meet the Author


Lily Tuck is the author of five novels: I Married You for Happiness; Interviewing Matisse or the Woman Who Died Standing Up; The Woman Who Walked on Water; Siam, or the Woman Who Shot a Man, nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award; and The News From Paraguay, winner of the National Book Award. She also wrote the biography Woman of Rome: A Life of Else Morante and the story collection Limbo, and Other Places I Have Lived.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
October 10, 1939
Place of Birth:
Paris, France
Education:
B.A., Radcliffe (Harvard); M.A., Sorbonne, Paris

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The House at Belle Fontaine 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful collection of short stories, each one a treasure. Enjoyed! ~*~LEB~*~