The Pleasing Hour (Paperback)

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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 and the father, Marc. Only Nicole, the children's distant, impeccably polished mother, is unwilling to embrace the young American. But when Rosie realizes that her attachments have become transgressions, she leaves for the south of France. There she learns about Nicole's own haunted past and the losses that link the two women more closely than either could have imagined.

About the Author

LILY KING's debut novel The Pleasing Hour won the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and was a New York Times Notable Book and an alternate for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her second book, The English Teacher, was winner of the Maine Fiction Award. Father of the Rain was a New York Times Editors' Choice, a Publishers Weekly Best Novel of the Year, an Amazon Best Book of the Month and winner of the 2010 New England Book Award for Fiction. Lily King lives with her family in Maine.


Praise For…

Lisa Shea

[An] impressive debut from a writer who knows how to uncover the saving impulses of the heart.

Lelia Ruckenstein
The Washington Post

Delightful...This remarkably well-written book will please you with its funny and sad tale of cultural differences, love, betrayal, and motherhood....Introduces a very talented writer of great promise.

Karen Shepard
USA Today

Beautifully wrought...what people do to each other and the legacies they leave are King's central subjects, and in her deft hands they're explored in complicated, ambitious ways that leave us feeling as if we've become fluent in a foreign language.

Heller McAlpin

Well written, absorbing....She is an accomplished stylist, repeatedly demonstrating a fine control of her complicated structure, which zigzags in time....An altogether pleasing debut.

Publishers Weekly

Expertly constructed, full of surprises, superbly paced, and sweetly sad, King's book hardly reads like a first novel.


With longing and sweetness, this subtle and gorgeously crafted novel takes us into a tangle of family affections...the play of French against American, of fresh hurts against old but still aching ones, of lovers and mothers, is gently woven in language of great purity.

Kirkus Reviews

Intriguing...the central character's complexity and many of the descriptive details are pleasing.

Tim Lemire
Tab (Boston)

A literary first novel of impressive layering and complexity, the kind of debut you might expect from the winner of the Raymond Carver Prize for fiction.

Phillip Lopate
Author of Portrait of My Body

This is a deft and moving novel, with grace notes and shocks of recognition on every page. Elegant, sensual, and, above all, aware, it offers a stunningly dramatic presentation of ambivalences and reconciliations. You feel wisdom in these sentences, and care for the truth.

Roxana Robinson
Author of This Is My Daughter and Summer Light

This is a lovely book, elegant and wise, full of illuminations about France, and families, and love.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780743201643
ISBN-10: 0743201647
Publisher: Touchstone Books
Publication Date: October 3rd, 2000
Pages: 256
Language: English