This isn’t a spelling mistake and has nothing to do with the famous tyres!

From time to time on this blog I mention the old magazines and papers we inherited when we bought Les Fragnes.

Amongst them is a serialised novel, Micheline by Hector Malot.


It’s in 15 parts, each one priced 10 centimes and published by Fayard Frères of 78 Boulevard Saint-Michel, Paris. Fayard are still going strong and you can read their history here.  Fayard is now owned by the huge Hachette Livres. One of their other publications was this very controversial one that came out in 1954, but I digress.

fayard weird pic

Back to our Hector. He was born in 1830 and trained to be a lawyer but became a writer and dramatic critic instead. He wrote more than 70 books, but only one seems to be talked about much – Sans Famille (Nobody’s Boy). Although not intended as such, this became a noted children’s book and is what made him famous.

Malot wrote Micheline in 1884 (along with another novel, Marichette). I’ve had a good hunt but can’t find an English translation. I’ve had a quick glance and it appears that Micheline is the daughter of Polish Prince Casimir Sobelewski who seems to spend a lot of time riding his horse around the north of France. Or possibly she’s his niece. It seems a little complicated and the tightly packed pages of nineteenth-century flowery French will take a lot of wading through to discover the full story. However, I can say for definite that there is a beautiful forty-year-old widow and a gorgeous twenty-four year old woman and a nice castle in Trouville involved.

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He seems to have been a popular writer at the time, going for melodramatic plots. I imagine those lent themselves well to serialisation. There do seem to be quite a few pictures of various swooning women and some dashing but dastardly rogues. Micheline is described in the blurb on the back cover as being a poignant and tender story, where all the affection, self-sacrifice and heroism that can be contained in a woman’s heart sings out loud. I guess that might not appeal to today’s audience very much.

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But I imagine back in 1884 there were readers eagerly awaiting the next exciting instalment of Micheline.

Hector Malot died in 1907.