Book Notes: "The Lost Estate" by Henri Alain-Fournier

The Lost EstateThe Lost Estate by Henri Alain-Fournier

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Three-quarters of the way through this book I thought it was more for children or at a pinch, YA fiction. But the last score pages had me racing to the finish in happy-joy-sad-nostalgia in that the novel captures the feeling of saudade, enveloping me as the third-party observer yet bringing me in close. I could not help several instances of déjà vu but I am not sure whether I have read parts of this before (as I had done with Steinbeck's Red Pony in an abridged version in primary school) or otherwise the imaginations of the older boys' recalls my own thoughts during those times when teenage boys are physically present but otherwise not there. I wonder, too, whether a feminist critique of the moral "rightness" of our hero's actions would not reveal a whole bunch of anti-morality should one shine a contemporary light on this, the third tale of the Belle Époque I have read in the last few weeks. I was fortunate enough to read most of this book while sitting on a cane chair on the grass in the warm autumn sunshine of the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, creating a dreamy ambience that made the digesting of this novel all the more enchanting.

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