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August 24, 2018


Classic: G. de Maupassant

by N@ncy



  1. There is more to this book than meets the eye.
  2. Maupassant did not want to just tell a story.
  3. He wanted us to understand the meaning behind events.
  4. This was an eye-opener for me.
  5. How often do I read a story and say I liked it or not.
  6. I learned in this book to look at the has a hidden meaning.
  7. I noticed if Jeanne (MC) traveled…where to? …and how it changed her.
  8. In the first line we read ‘she packed her bags’
  9. …this reveals she is moving.
  10. “Jeanne, ayant fini ses malles…”
  11. Jeanne is in transition…from life during a convent education.
  12. to new places
  13. She travels 4 times.
  14. How did each voyage change her?


Themes:  Love, marriage, motherhood, adultery, ruthless ambition

  1. What was Maupassant’s message in this book?
  2. Marriage is a trap!


  1. The decline of the ‘noblesse’ class who are incapable to adapt to the times
  2. The provincial morals and values Normandy in the 19th C
  3. The power of the Catholic Church and its prelates on the social order.
  4. Marriage: woman has the duty to be a good wife and mother
  5. …in exchange for losing any control over one’s life!

Look closely at the structure:

  • Part 1 is  filled with unbridled happiness.
  • This is done to contrast the depths of
  • Jeanne’s disillusionment in part 2… at the end of her life.


Look for a minor character:

  1. Tante Lison:
  2. There are many characters in the book
  3. …but I singled out one that touched my heart.
  4. No one noticed her, cared about her
  5. …she was ‘object familier, un meuble viviant.’
  6. Her nonexistence her isolation is obvious in the book
  7. ….but Maupassant put her in the spotlight!
  8. She is in every important scene even
  9. …as reader I had the tendency to just pass her by!
  10. preparing trousseau for Jeanne’s wedding
  11.  is the only guest invited to Jeanne’s wedding
  12. godmother to Jeanne’s son Paul
  13. discovers Julien’s infidelity
  14. cares for Paul’s religious education
  15. attends family funerals and
  16. ….steps in as second mother to Jeanne.


Strong point:

  1. I liked the descriptions of nature especially the coast of Normandy.
  2. Fishermen, their families, job, boats, beaches and cliffs.
  3. You can just smell the salt in the air of
  4. his beloved homeland, Etretat, France
  5. La mer – Jeanne’s  strong feelings for the coast of Nomandy.
  6. The sea represents the infinite that stretches out  before Jeanne
  7. and the many possibilities  Une Vie has to offer her.
  8. La pluie – represents melancholy.
  9. Le soleil – represents joy
  10. Mausassant uses the changes in
  11. …seasons and nature to reflect Jeanne’s moods.


Last thoughts:

  1. The main character, Jeanne, is based on
  2. …Maupassant’s mother, Laure le Poittevin.
  3. She was a victim on an uphappy marriage and submitted
  4. herself to an adulterous and violent husband.
  5. Laure made a strong move…supported by her friend G. Flaubert
  6. and left her husband which was unusual in the 19th C.
  7. She concentrated all her attention on her son, Guy.
  8. As you read the book you can see the similarities
  9. between Laure and Jeanne.
  10. I enjoyed this book after I gave it time to settle in my mind.
  11. Maupassants’s  Bel-Ami is his most polished novel.
  12. Both books are #Classics!

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aug 24 2018

    Wonderful review and especially the last thoughts, the inspiration behind the novel. Was that written about in the book or was that from research you did on it?


    • Aug 24 2018

      I read a biography Maupassant by Frédéric Martinez many years ago and I remembered
      the close relationship the writer had with his mother. That lead to some research and I just put the puzzle pieces together. Maupassant struggled so hard to write this novel….he wanted to emulate his mother’s childhood friend G. Flaubert. Writing came naturally to Gustave….Guy had to dig deep to be like him!


  2. Sep 9 2018

    Love the art work with this post Nancy 🙂


    • Sep 9 2018

      Thanks….Maupassant was all about the sea…he loved taking brisk swims off the coast of Normandy…loved sailing his beloved boat “Bel-Ami” …he lived his short life (43 yr) in dazzling (classic novels) but at also (mental illness) treacherously shifting currents.

      Liked by 1 person


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Classic Club Master List | NancyElin
  2. Non-fiction: Maupassant (biography) | NancyElin
  3. The Classics Club: 50 questions | NancyElin

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