Monday, July 4, 2011

"Abandoned" by Guy de Maupassant

When plans for another Paris in July were announced, I knew Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893) would be on my itinerary.  "Farewell" was a favorite last year. It left me marveling at the author's ability to write so simply and directly about basic human experience (aging, in this case), yet have it resonate so deeply.

"Abandoned" succeeds on the same level. What must it be like to give up a child at birth? The story opens:
"I really think you must be mad, my dear, to go for a country walk in such weather as this. You have had some very strange notions for the last two months. You drag me to the seaside in spite of myself, when you have never once had such a whim during all the forty-four years that we have been married. You chose Fecamp, which is a very dull town, without consulting me in the matter, and now you are seized with such a rage for walking, you who hardly ever stir out on foot, that you want to take a country walk on the hottest day of the year. Ask d'Apreval to go with you, as he is ready to gratify all your whims. As for me, I am going back to have a nap."
Madame de Cadour, an elderly woman, does convince her old companion to accompany her on a walk, while her husband returns to the hotel for a nap. We learn almost immediately that there is much more to both the purpose of the journey and the relationship when Monsieur d'Apreval says,
"if our son guesses anything, if he has any suspicions, he will have you, he will have us both in his power. You have got on without seeing him for the last forty years. What is the matter with you to-day?"
The puzzle is quickly pieced together as the reader learns Madame de Cadour was sent away years earlier to have a baby. She held her son for a single day before he was abruptly taken. What must forty years of daily longing be like? Surely expectations have been formed as a picture of the long-absent child (now man) was fashioned in her mind.

After so much time, can anything really turn out as one imagines? Read the eight-page story here.

Short Story Monday is hosted by John Mutford at The Book Mine Set.
Paris in July is hosted by Karen and Tamara.


  1. I definitely should add more of the French classics to my Paris in July reading (or any other month, for that matter!) de Maupassant sounds like a wonderful place to start.

  2. I have only read a couple of de Maupassant's short stories, but I LOVED both of them. This is one that I know I would enjoy as well.

  3. Hmmm, it's a plot I'm surprised isn't more common. Sounds interesting though.

  4. Sounds like typical Maupassant.
    This make me think that I have a collection of Anna Gavalda's stories on my shelves. I have never read anything by her as she was famous yet when I left France.

  5. I only learned about this armchair challenge today! I need to dig out my volume of de Maupassant short stories to join you! I have only read The Necklace.

  6. This one sounds great...thanks for the link!

  7. Sounds like a really emotional story. I agree with John, I'm surprised this type of plot isn't used more.

  8. I loved Farewell also. I have "Abandoned" and plan to read it soon. Great review!

  9. Audrey - Paris in July provided just the push I needed to read some French classics!

    Rhapsodyinbooks - It wasn't really...

    Molly - I've liked all of de Maupassant's stories, too. There are quite a few horror/crime tales I've bookmarked for October.

    John Mutford - You're right! Don't think I've come across many stories with a plot like this.

    Emeire - Ah, now you've given me another author to investigate!

    Matt - I hope you do!

    Staci - You're welcome. I've enjoyed all the de Maupassant stories I've read so far.

    Loni - I never really thought about it until John commented, but you would think this would be a more common subject for stories.

    Teddy Rose - I liked "Farewell" better, but this was still a good one.

  10. de Maupassant stories are sort of a gamble-some are great some are written by a formula-I will booknark this one to read later-I enjoyed your post a lot

  11. Sounds like an interesting read Thanks for the link to read it.

  12. Mel U - I've only read a few of his stories, so I'm not quite sure of the formula yet. I noticed several crime/horror stories on the website...maybe those are the formulaic ones?

    Kathleen - You're welcome. Enjoy!

  13. What an intense and emotional story. The writing is wonderful, there's so much more in the passage you included here then what's written...amazing. And I cannot help but feel for Madame de Cadour.

    Thank you for the link to the story.

  14. Amy - I'm so glad you enjoyed it! All of de Maupassant's stories have really struck a chord with me, so I'll definitely be reading more.

  15. I've only read the one story by Maupassant (The Necklace) but this sounds more emotional, and I think I'd love to read it. I really need to read more Maupassant, but for the life of me, don't know why I haven't yet.

  16. Anothercookiecrumbles - I really liked this story, but somehow "The Confession" resonated even more.

  17. In high school (many many eons ago) we had to read The Necklace by Guy and it stuck with me to this day. It's the only short story of his I read and I don't know why because I really liked The Necklace. Thanks for the link!

  18. Kaye - I read "The Necklace" in high school way back when, too, but it's only been within the past year that I've rediscovered de Maupassant. If you get a chance, I highly recommend reading "Farewell" (linked to in post).


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