Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Chancellet (shahnz-ih-LAY). Village near Paris in France. One of the “least changed” villages after World War I, Chancellet lies along the highway from Paris to Orleans and the tourist country of the Loire River. Busy automobile traffic through the village symbolizes the restless and rootless generation of the postwar 1920’s, when foreigners’ paths often intersected in France or other popular places during their journeys from place to place.

The Cullens, an Irish couple, seeking to escape the unpleasant consequences of their involvement with Irish revolutionaries, are stopping over in Paris during their automobile trip to Hungary, where they have rented a property. They take advantage of their stopover to visit their American friend, Alexandra Henry, who has a house in the village, a short distance from Paris. They bring along their Irish chauffeur and a pilgrim hawk named Lucy, an unexpected “guest” that Mrs. Cullen is training to hunt.

Alexandra Henry’s house

Alexandra Henry’s house. Chancellet home of the American expatriate Alexandra Henry. Located directly on the village street, the house combines two small dwellings and a large horse stable, rebuilt and furnished in a modern style. Alwyn Tower, Alex’s houseguest who narrates the story from a vantage point ten years in the future, points out the architect’s mistake in placing the dining room and chief guestroom on the street, where all the noise of the highway traffic and frequent close brushes with heavy trucks interfere with dinner conversation and nightly rest.

The house’s living room is a converted stable with the hayloft removed, so that the old chestnut rafters stretching thirty feet to the roof give a Gothic feeling to the otherwise...

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