Short summary - A Woman's Life - Guy de Maupassant

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - A Woman's Life
Guy de Maupassant

Northwest France. Rouen. Morning in May 1819 Jeanne, a blonde girl with eyes like blue agates, daughter of Baron Le Pertuis de Vaux, packs her bags herself and looks out the window again: the rain does not subside ... And so I want to go!
Jeanne has just returned to her parents' house from the monastery, where she was brought up "in strict confinement" from the age of twelve. And finally, freedom, the beginning of life, and he and his dad and mom go to "Poplar", to the ancestral castle on the seashore, to the village for the whole summer! The rain does not stop, but they still go. In the carriage there is an eccentric, kind father, a very overweight mother and a young maid Rosalie. The castle in "Topoli", of course, is old, but my father sold one of his farms and with this money put everything in order: after all, he and his mother decided to give this castle to Jeanne. She will live there when she gets married ... In the meantime, they go there for the whole summer.
The chateau is very spacious, very cozy and quite chaotic: on the sides of the Louis XIV style chest of drawers there are two armchairs (just think!) In the Louis XV style ... But there is freedom in this too. You can run anywhere, walk and swim in the sea - sheer happiness, and ahead of her whole life and, of course, love. It remains only to meet Him, and as soon as possible! Abbot Pico, a local curate, once dining at the Topoli, recalls over dessert that he has a new parishioner, Viscount de Lamar, charming, decent, quiet. On Sunday, the Baroness and Jeanne go to Mass, and the priest introduces them to the young man. He soon makes his first visit, he is well-mannered, and is invited to dine next week. The Viscount dined. Nothing has happened yet, nothing has happened yet, he only looks at Joan with velvet-black eyes. No one knows anything yet - neither the baron with the baroness, nor Jeanne, nor even the reader, but meanwhile the plot of the drama has already taken place ... The
viscount is constantly in their house, he helps mommy "to exercise", the three of them - with her father and Jeanne - arranged a boat trip, his name is Julien, and Jeanne is full of a premonition of love, and now at last the captivating question sounds: "Do you want to be my wife?"
The rite is complete. Zhanna is excited: how is it - yesterday she fell asleep as a girl, and today, now, standing at the altar, she has become a woman! But why is Julien tenderly whispering that in the evening Jeanne will become his wife? Didn't she ... didn't ?!
And now it is already evening. Mom, poor, is crying, unable to give her daughter the last instructions. Father is forced to take it ...
Rosalie undresses Jeanne and for some reason roars in three streams, but Jeanne does not notice anything, she is in bed and waits, not knowing what ...
Then two or three pages of a special character follow - “... another leg slipped on her leg, cold and hairy ... ”
Then, during a honeymoon trip to Corsica, a woman quietly awakens in Jeanne, but strangely: knowing love with Julien, she sees more and more clearly that her husband is cowardly, greedy, arrogant and intolerably commonplace.
They return to "Poplar", and from the very first night Julien remains in his room, and then somehow immediately, as if playing the role of a newlywed, he ceases to pay attention to Jeanne, forgets the razor, does not crawl out of his old home jacket and drinks eight glasses cognac after every meal. Jeanne is languishing with melancholy, and then the always cheerful Rosalie has completely changed and got sick. In the morning she slowly makes Jeanne's bed and suddenly sinks to the floor ... In the lady's room, near her bed, Rosalie's girl gave birth to a boy.
Zhanna is excited, wants to help Rosalie (they are foster sisters), you need to find the father of the child, make him marry, but Julien is categorical: the maid must be driven along with the illegitimate child! Jeanne asks Rosalie, and she just sobs. The husband is angry at all this, but for some reason he returns "to the duties of love."
It's winter outside, it's cold in the castle, Jeanne is unwell, and Julien wants to. Jeanne asks him to postpone the visits to the bedroom for a day or two. At night Jeanne has a terrible chill, she calls Rosalie, she does not respond, Jeanne barefoot, half-delirious, goes to her room, but Rosalie is not there. Feeling that she is dying, Jeanne rushes to wake Julien ... On the pillow next to his head is Rosalie's.
It turned out that the well-bred viscount, even when he had dined at the Topoli for the first time, having dined, did not leave, but crept into the attic, hid, and then “went down” to Rosalie's. And then it all resumed, after their return from Corsica.
Jeanne almost died in a fever, and the doctor discovered that she was pregnant. All were reconciled by the village priest, who found a husband for Rosalie. And Jeanne gave birth to a boy. He was named Paul, and love for him replaced everything else for Jeanne.
Misfortune continues to pour on poor Jeanne: mother died, Julien started an affair next door - with the Countess de Fourville, the jealous count discovered lovers and killed them, presenting the case as an accident ... And Paul was fifteen, he had to send him to college. And now he is twenty, and he contacted a prostitute, they fled to London. The son pulls money from the mother and completely ruins. The old baron fusses, mortgages, re-mortgages the estate, dies suddenly ... Rosalie, already an old, but strong and clear-minded widow, returns to the house and takes care of the completely weakened Jeanne ...
Poplar, no other way out It was. Jeanne and Rosalie live in a modest but cozy house. Paul writes that his beloved gave birth to a girl and is now dying. And Jeanne, the same Jeanne, who was just recently full of anticipation of life, is living out her last days and occasionally recalling short, rare moments of love.
But here Rosalie brings the girl, the granddaughter, and Paul will arrive tomorrow, after the funeral. And life goes on, the same life that is not as good as Rosalie says, but not as bad as people think of her.
Jeanne and Rosalie remember the heavy, endless rain as they drove to the Poplar from Rouen.