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 studied at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Syracuse University, where she won the Raymond Carver Prize for fiction. A MacDowell Colony fellow, her stories have appeared in Ploughshares and Glimmer Train. She lives with her husband and daughter in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Praise for The Pleasing Hour…
[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 Newsday 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.
Booklist 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.