"Splendid . . . Powerful . . . so assured that it’s hard to believe the book is [King’s] debut.” Jacqueline Carey, The New York Times Book Review
The Pleasing Hour
978-0-8021-4374-7 • $14.00 • Paperback • Mar. 2010
The first novel from a new literary voice brimming with
sensitivity and lyricism, The Pleasing
Hour is the story of Rosie, an American au pair in Europe whose
coming-of-age defies all our usual conceptions of naïveté and experience.
Every autumn, on a day called la rentrée, hundreds of
filles descend upon Paris to move in with Parisian families and care for the
children. They drink in the glamorous culture, pursue romance and the perfect
accent. But Rosie is different; when she comes to live with the Tivots on their
houseboat in Paris, she is fleeing an unspeakable loss that has left her hollow
and longing for family.
As Rosie awkwardly grasps for the French words to
communicate with the Tivots, she longs for a piece of common ground with
Nicole, the cool, distant, and beautifully polished mother of the three
children she cares for. Rosie's bond with Marc, the father of the household,
develops almost too naturally, and the children make their way so deep inside
her heart, she can practically read their thoughts. But when Lola, the middle
child, begins to suspect too close an attachment between her au pair and her
father, Rosie is alerted to her trespass within the family and moves to the
south of France to care for Nicole's elderly guardian, the storyteller of the
As the narrative slides effortlessly into the warm light of
the French countryside, a tapestry is woven between a past darkened by war and
betrayals and a present haunted by the weight of that legacy. Soon Rosie
understands the tragic losses behind Nicole's austere demeanor and sees that
the two of them have more in common than she believed.
Demonstrating a wise understanding of love and the
complicated dynamics of family, with all its fierceness and delicacy, Lily King
delivers a highly accomplished novel.