cover image The Lost Domain

The Lost Domain

Alain-Fournier, trans. from the French by Frank Daivson. Oxford Univ., $19.95 (232p) ISBN 978-0-19-967868-6

Touching and wonderfully detailed, this portrait of French life in the 1890s will make readers feel not only that they know the time and place but that they are actually there. François Seurel, a schoolmaster’s son, is 15 and lives in a small village with his parents. Augustin Meaulnes is new at school, and comes to stay with the Seurel family as a boarder. Augustin is two years older and very charismatic, and the boys at the school start to call him “le grand Meaulnes” as a tribute. Jasmin Delouche, a physically small young man who nonetheless is “cock of the walk” at the school, feels supplanted by the new arrival—but for François, a whole new world of adventure has been opened. When the boys’ ramblings lead them to the domain of the title and an odd party that is taking place there, events are set in motion that will change them. If this were only a chronicle of smalltown life and the ups and downs of youth, it would be a fine story, but the complications that force the boys to grow up quickly deepen the book and make it a classic. (Jan.)