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A Tale of the Wind [Paperback]

Kay Nolte Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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From Publishers Weekly

Smith's ( Elegy for a Soprano ; Country of the Heart ) clever, solidly based historical novel of 19th-century France follows the tangled professional/sexual fortunes of three women of the theater: Jeanne, a ragpicker's daughter who rises to become a playwright; her headstrong daughter Gabrielle, a singer; and her granddaughter Simone. Devoted to Jeanne is the actor Nandou, a noble dwarf who rescues her as a girl, educates and cherishes her, and parents her illegitimate daughter when Jeanne's well-born lover--the painter Vollard--deserts her. Vollard weds an heiress; their son Marc, abhorring his "sodomite" inclinations, forms a marriage of convenience with half-sister Gabrielle. The plot unfolds against the well-depicted political and artistic upheavals of the age, including the stormy beginnings of French romanticism with the work of Victor Hugo, who makes a cameo appearance in the novel and remains a constant presence: not only is Hugo a friend of Nandou's, but the portrayals of Nandou and Jeanne optimistically recreate Hugo's hunchback and gypsy girl of Notre Dame de Paris. Unfortunately, though Smith orients her story to lively issues--artistic boldness, feminism, homosexuality, incest, adultery (the libertine Vollard jails his wife for infidelity)--she fails to probe the psychic depths of her characters, who speak and behave like wooden puppets. Literary Guild alternate.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

This is a historical novel that takes place in 19th-century Paris. Nandou, a talented actor, magician, and dwarf, falls in love with Jeanne Sorel, a ragpicker. He takes her home and educates her, never telling her of his feelings. Meanwhile, Jeanne falls in love with the son of a wealthy family, Louis Vollard, who abandons her and marries a woman of his class. Pregnant with Louis's child, Jeanne returns to Nandou. The two families, both closely connected to the Romantic movement that is changing the arts in France, clash for the next three generations. The characters in this book seem so totally self-absorbed it is difficult to feel sympathy for them. However, there is a lot of action and the plot moves quickly. Recommended for large libraries where there is a demand for historical sagas.
- Anne Keenan, Blair P.L., Neb.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This book was amazing! Aug. 22 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I must admit that I am biased toward the time and setting in which this book is placed, nineteenth century France. However any reader would be totally engulfed in this novel from beginning to end... I am SURE of that. I cried on two occasions in this book and felt all of the other emotions at different times during this novel. From the time that the dwarf, Nandou, who was larger than life, first sees Jeanne, to the last page one will not want to leave Paris. The line that sticks in my mind the most is at the very end...."...the smile that will never be changed and the wind that rose to meet it"
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book was amazing! Aug. 22 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I must admit that I am biased toward the time and setting in which this book is placed, nineteenth century France. However any reader would be totally engulfed in this novel from beginning to end... I am SURE of that. I cried on two occasions in this book and felt all of the other emotions at different times during this novel. From the time that the dwarf, Nandou, who was larger than life, first sees Jeanne, to the last page one will not want to leave Paris. The line that sticks in my mind the most is at the very end...."...the smile that will never be changed and the wind that rose to meet it"
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourites March 9 2014
By Joan Blythe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Kay N Smith writes with such fluidity. I love this tale of Nandou the dwarf who falls in love with an impoverished girl and brings her up. It is a timeless classic and much under appreciated in my view. I bought this book years back and an glad to review it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read! Aug. 4 2012
By Kathleen T. Dean - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book had wonderful characters, especially Nandou and Jeanne. The setting of the story in 19th century France really came alive, not only the politics, but the art and theater worlds as well. Highly recommended!!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a tale of Paris March 29 2009
By Ree Strawser - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I looked a long time for this book and finally found it through Amazon (should have looked here first). Kay Nolte Smith brought Paris a live for me and I am a Francophone to the hilt!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating History of Esthetics & Society Feb. 24 2005
By Jack Gardner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The birth and struggles of Romanticism and of three generations of strong women in 18th century France. Begings with the fight to perform Victor Hugo's "Hernani" and ends with the struggle to publish Edmond Rostand's "Cyrano De Bergerac."
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