Two Novels by Marcel Pagnol

May 23, 2007

pagnol.jpg Jean de Florette and Manon of the Springs are two novels that could each stand alone, but are a continuing story that make up The Water of the Hills. The author, Marcel Pagnol, not only had a successful career as an author, but is even better known in the film industry. Frequently when a film is made from a book, and more often when a book is created from a film, one or the other falls short. These two stories are an exception, likely due to the fact that the talented Pagnol is responsible for both.

The story centers on a virtuous , hard-working hunchbacked man that moves his family near to a small town to start a new life and fulfill a dream. Ultimately, it is the reader that is moved. There is not one specific thing that I would choose that made this book enjoyable. It is, simply stated, a wonderful story.

It occurred to me throughout these two novels, that it was all here- murder, love, lust, altruism, deceit, fear, pity- all of the conflict imaginable- man vs. man, man vs. nature, man fighting internal struggles, man struggling with god. At one point I started ticking off examples of the deadly sins-

  • lust
  • gluttony
  • greed
  • sloth
  • wrath
  • envy
  • pride

They are all here, skillfully interspersed with measured amounts of virutous behavior, and Pagnol makes it real., and makes it work. The story stays with one after reading the final pages- it has been difficult to start something new, even two days later.

Because I enjoyed the story so much, I don’t like to point out anything negatuve. But I would have preferred that the book end 10 or 20 pages earlier. Pagnol literally tied up every loose end, and added a few twists that for me at least, were not necessary and didn’t add to my enjoyment of the story.


12 Responses to “Two Novels by Marcel Pagnol”

  1. Stefanie Says:

    I don’t think I’ve heard of Pagnol before. You make the books sound very interesting. Did Pagnol make movies of them too? I’m not much of a moviegoer, what movies of his would you recommend?

  2. Brad Says:

    Most of the films that he wrote and directed were only produced in French- I don’t think that they even have English subtitles. The movies from these books were directed by someone else, but are available with subtitles- at least they are from Netflix.

  3. litlove Says:

    Pagnol is a brilliant writer and I think partly that’s a wonderful way with words, but largely because he writes one hundred percent from the heart. Glad you enjoyed the novels. Stefanie – I think you’d like Manon des Sources, which is from his books and subtitled in English, I’m sure.

  4. Dewey Says:

    I love both these movies, but haven’t read the novels. Just added them to my wishlist, though!

    I’ve also seen the films La Gloire de mon père and Le château de ma mère, but haven’t read the books. You might like those — they’re memoirs by the same author. And these films also have English subtitles.

  5. I really loved these movies and somehow didn’t know about the books. But it sounds like I’ll have to add them to my list. Thanks for the review 🙂

  6. JCR Says:

    These are excellent reads, by the sound of it. I don’t know about film adaptations… I usually don’t go see the film unless it is a novel/short story by Paul Auster (who directs his own work) or Haruki Murakami.

  7. LK Says:

    Never read the book, but LOVED LOVED LOVED the films.

  8. imani Says:

    Where are yooooooooou?

  9. Robin Says:

    Just checking in again to say HI and see what you’re reading. I hope all is well with you..just a busy time?

  10. 3m Says:

    LOVE these movies.

    I have the book but haven’t read it yet. Hope to in 2008.

  11. errantdreams Says:

    Sometimes less is more when you reach the end of a book—I enjoy being left with a few things to think about.

  12. Nicolas Says:


    If you’re interested in Marcel Pagnol’s work, please visit our brand new website (French and English).
    You’ll find on it all his bio, filmo and biblio.

    Sincerly yours.

    Nicolas Pagnol.

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