Three Tales

Three Tales

Three Tales

Three Tales


Three Tales offers an excellent introduction to the work of one of the world's greatest novelists. A Simple Heart is set in the Normandy of Flaubert's childhood, while Saint Julian and Herodias draw on medieval myth and the biblical story of John the Baptist for their inspiration. Each of the tales invites comparison with one or other of Flaubert's novels, but they also reveal a fresh and distinctive side to the writers's genius.


For half a century the good ladies of Pont-l'Évêque envied Madame Aubain her servant Félicité.

For one hundred francs a year she did the cooking and the housework, sewing, washing, and ironing, she could bridle a horse, fatten up poultry, churn butter, and remained faithful to her mistress, who was not however a very likeable person.

She had married a handsome but impecunious young man, who died at the beginning of 1809, leaving her with two very young children and heavy debts. So she sold her properties, except the farms at Toucques and Geffosses, which brought in five thousand francs a year at the very most, and moved out of her house at Saint-Melaine into a less expensive one, which had been in her family for generations and stood behind the market-hall.

This house, faced with slates, lay between an alley and a lane running down to the river. Inside there were changes of level which could make you stumble. A narrow entrance hall separated the kitchen from the living-room, where Madame Aubain sat all day long in a basketwork armchair by the window. Against the white-painted panelling were ranged eight mahogany chairs. On an old piano, beneath a barometer, rested a pyramid of piled-up boxes and cartons. A tapestry wing-chair stood on each side of a yellow marble mantelpiece in Louis XV style. The clock in the middle of it represented a temple of Vesta--and the whole place smelled slightly of mildew, for the floor was lower than the garden.

On the first floor there came first 'Madame's' bedroom, very large, papered in a pale floral pattern, and containing a portrait of 'Monsieur' dressed as a dandy of days gone by.

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