Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 233
The House in Paris by Elizabeth Bowen revolves around one day in which two children are going to meet family members. Henrietta is an eleven-year old girl who is traveling to see her grandmother by way of Paris and her grandmother’s acquaintance, Miss Fisher. Miss Fisher picks her up at the train station and brings her to her own mother’s house, Mme Fisher, who houses wealthy girls for extended visits while they study.
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At Mme Fisher’s house, Henrietta meets Leopold, a nine-year-old boy who is meeting his mother for the first time that day. His mother, Karen, had him with his father, Max. He was the result of an affair—at the time of their relationship, Karen was engaged to Ray Forrestier, and Max was engaged to Miss Fisher.
Their relationship doesn’t end well—although they want to marry, ultimately Max kills himself and Karen marries Ray and gives up Leopold for adoption. On the day she is supposed to meet Leopold, she has second thoughts and sends word that she isn’t coming. Ray, who has never been comfortable with Leopold’s existence, realizes that the best thing for everyone is for Karen to meet her son. He arrives at the house and picks up Leopold to meet his mother. On the way they take Henrietta to the train so that she may continue on to her grandmother.
Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 270
Miss Naomi Fisher
Miss Naomi Fisher, Karen Michaelis’ friend. She helps Karen when the latter becomes pregnant and has a child by Max Ebhart, Naomi’s fiancé. Her home is the setting for the story.
Leopold Moody, a nine-year-old boy. He has come to Naomi’s house to see the mother he has never met, Karen Michaelis. When he learns she will not come, he tries to be indifferent, but his stoic attitude dissolves into tears. Only Mme Fisher can console him. He seems pleased when his mother’s husband, Ray Forrestier, encourages him to go to his mother.
Henrietta Mountjoy, a sympathetic eleven-year-old girl, who tries to console Leopold that day at Naomi’s house.
Mme Fisher, Naomi’s invalid mother. She helps young Leopold accept, even if he cannot understand, the world in which he finds himself.
Karen Michaelis, Leopold’s mother. After her child’s birth, she gives up the child and her fiancé, who is not the boy’s father. She finally marries her fiancé, Ray Forrestier, and allows him to overrule her resolve not to have her son in their home.
Max Ebhart, once Naomi’s fiancé, he is the father of Leopold, the result of a one-night love affair with Karen. Brilliant and sensitive, he is driven by his predicament into suicide. He kills himself by slashing his wrists.
Ray Forrestier, Karen’s fiancé at the time of her brief affair with Max. He eventually marries Karen, and it is he who insists that Leopold join the family, despite Karen’s doubts.