January 12, 2013

Fadette by George Sand

Fadette is a pastoral novel, written around 1848 by George Sand, which is set in a small French village and tells the story of Francoise (Fanchon), alias the little Fadette, and the “twins of the Twinnery.” The novel begins with the birth of the twins—Landry and Sylvinet Barbeau—and with some wise advice on how to raise twins in order to ensure that both children become strong in mind and body. Regrettably, any of the parents follows the advice of the midwife, which mistake will prove almost fatal to the life of one of the twins later. Despite this serious error of judgment that their parents make, Landry and Sylvinet grow up in a loving family, which doesn’t lack financial stability.

By contrast, little Fadette’s childhood is anything but idyllic. Their wicked and mean grandmother is raising Fadette and her little brother, who is mentally and physically disabled, because their mother, a woman with a very bad reputation, abandoned them. They live in poverty and suffer domestic violence, but what is more, the people of the country do not treat them with compassion either. Everybody considers Fadette a bad and ugly witch, mainly because she isn’t clean and well dressed and she practices alternative medicine. Hence, people call her names, such as Fadette, meaning will o’ the wisp, and Cricket, after the insect.

The Barbeau family is no exception either; every member of the family is proud and prejudiced against Fadette. Some unfortunate events, however, force Landry Barbeau in asking little Fadette for help, becoming acquainted with her true herself, and learning to respect and love her. Of course, Fadette and Landry’s love is being put to the test, but I can assure every romantic among us, that this is a book with Happy Ending, with only a hint of unhappiness.

My Thoughts
George Sand’s charming story of Fadette is an easy and fast read. Sand’s writing style is simple; there are no complicated plots, no superfluous characters with names you are not able to memorize, and no lengthy descriptions. Moreover, no major tragedies occur in Fadette, which is one of the reasons why I recommend reading this novel when you seek comfort, when you are in the “depths of despair.”

Even though Fadette is a simple, natural novel, one should not come to the erroneous conclusion that George Sand was an untalented or uncreative writer. Sand deliberately wanted to write a work that provides the reader with comfort. At the time of developing the idea of Fadette, French people had been at war with each other; France was torn by civil war. Hence, sensitive human beings, Sand too, were on the brink of losing their faith in humaneness, their belief in a bright (or rather any kind of) future. As she explains in her preface to Fadette, “[a]t such a moment as this,” a serious and great (and male) writer “writes . . . a drama full of torments and of groans” (p. 6). But, Sand feels it is her duty to create an idyllic picture. She writes thus:

In times when evil comes because men misunderstand and hate one another, it is the mission of the artist to praise sweetness, confidence, and friendship, and so to remind men, hardened or discouraged, that pure morals, tender sentiments, and primitive justice still exist, or at least can exist, in this world. (p. 6)

Correspondingly, Fadette is far more than a 19th century chick-lit. The love story of little Fadette and Landry teaches us valuable lessons about compassion, humaneness, friendship, selflessness, and, of course, true love. Moreover, little Fadette’s relationship with God and her strong and genuine faith is an example to us all. That is why this novel qualifies as one of the best comfort readings I have came across and recommend it to every kindred spirit.

Favourite Quotes
God has written in the law of nature that when two people are joined in love or friendship, one must always give his heart more perfectly than the other. (p. 34) 
No place is ugly to those who understand the virtues and sweetness of everything that God has made. (p. 142) 
[I]t is that we are too apt to despise what appears to be neither good nor beautiful, and thus we lose what is helpful and salutary. (p. 142) 
God abandons only those who abandon themselves, and whoever has the courage to shut up his sorrow within his own heart is stronger to fight against it than he who complains. (p. 207)
Rating:
Title: Fadette
Author: George Sand
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: 1893 [1849]
Format: Kindle Edition
Length: 295 Pages
ISBN: ----
Language: English
Source: Free Download from Internet Archive

4 comments:

  1. Thank you - I've not come across this particular work before, though I do know George Sand, and it sounds lovely.

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    1. You're welcome. I hope you will enjoy this novel as much as I did. Let me know! Happy reading!

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  2. This sounds wonderful! I'm going to download a copy to my iPad. :)

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    1. Dear joon*ann, I'm so happy that my review inspired you to read this novel, because George Sand has always been treated as a poor relation within classic literature. At least, that's what I've always felt...

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