Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

La Gastine

La Gastine (lah gas-TEEN). Isolated farmhouse in a remote part of the northern French region of Brittany; a calculatedly unostentatious one-story edifice set in a fertile plain interrupted by beech trees. It is the home of the Greneuc family, whose daughter, Amélie, Amaury might have married had he been so inclined; it symbolizes the quiet desolation of conventional rural existence.

Château de Couaën

Château de Couaën (SHAH-toh deh kwah-EH[N]). House about six miles distance from La Gastine, set in more precipitous country near a barren coast. It is equally remote, but even more ancient and forbidding, having served in bygone eras as a fortress. Its tower and ramparts survive, but only two of its floors remain in use, the upper one serving as the marquis’ study, library, and bedroom. The garret is now a rat-infested granary. The château plays host to futile secret gatherings of the antirevolutionary French nobility. Madame Couaën’s room is, however, exceptional; when Amaury first enters it, everything—polished antique furniture, porcelain, Irish crystal—seems to be shining.


Saint-Pierre-de-Mer (sahn-pyehr-de-mer). Mountain chapel overlooking a boulder-strewn bay, maintained by Madame Couaën—who contrasts the wild landscape in which it is set with her native Ireland. The ruins of a stone watch tower stand on the edge of the cliff, where the marquis decides to raise and keep a lighthouse after his wife’s death. Amaury’s obsession with the imagery of water begins at Saint-Pierre; once he has been there he continually thinks of human emotions in terms of their analogy...

(The entire section is 693 words.)