La Symphonie Pastorale

Author André Gide
Vote 7/10
Reviewed on 2018-08-25
Read in French

This short book is set somewhere lost in the French woods. A pastor is called in all urgency to come to the bed of a dying old woman, to administer the last rites. He discovers a young girl, who a neighbor, present when the man arrives, says to be someone that the old woman had been giving shelter to. The girl, she says, is blind and can’t speak. Since there will now be no one to take care of her, the pastor, out of charity and compassion, decides to take the girl to his house.

The arrival in the new house is not easy. The family almost lives in poverty, and the pastor’s wife is upset to learn that there will be a new mouth to feed. The girl accepts the food and the shelters, but shuns any other type of contact. The pastor, however, doesn’t want to give up on her, also because he believes that she only doesn’t speak because her host used to be almost deaf, and so she has lost the use for words. This is why he decides to educate her, in a long path of trial and error.

The girl gives very slow results, but then she starts reacting to the teachings and her learning becomes fast paced. She also regains the use of the word. The pastor comes to feel affection to her, and she does the same. After this, I can only spoil the plot.

An interesting read with a dark twist. Recommended.