Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

La Tour L’Evêque

La Tour L’Evêque (lah tewr leh-VEK). Fictional French provincial town to which the widowed Antoine Mesurat retires in the company of his two daughters, Germaine and Adrienne. Its buildings tend to be ugly, its residents contentious and impertinent. Its landmarks described are typical of any small French town, with streets named for military figures and patriotic concerts in the town square. As the narrative proceeds, Adrienne feels increasingly hemmed in by a circle of watchful eyes. Before arousing her father’s protective instincts, she enjoys walking through the town, unaware that even then, she is doubtless being watched.

Villa des Charmes

Villa des Charmes (vee-ya day sharm). Mesurat family residence, grandly named for two hornbeam trees (charme in French) planted in the gated front yard, the closed garden of the novel’s English title. Thirty-five year old Germaine, a self-proclaimed invalid, remains housebound until her sudden departure; her eighteen-year-old sister, Adrienne, is at first free to leave the house at will, but after the death of their father—in what may or may not be an accident—remains virtually imprisoned inside the Villa des Charmes. The house itself is described as ugly, built economically with more windows than bricks. In the novel’s opening scene, young Adrienne is shown cleaning house, moving heavy furniture with apparent ease and casting reproving...

(The entire section is 543 words.)