The Balcony

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By Jane Delury

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A “breathtaking” century-spanning portrait of the inhabitants of a French village (Jennifer Egan), revealing the deception, despair, love, and longing beneath the calm surface of ordinary lives.

What if our homes could tell the stories of others who lived there before us? Set in a small village near Paris, The Balcony follows the inhabitants of a single estate-including a manor and a servants’ cottage-over the course of several generations, from the Belle vâpoque to the present day, introducing us to a fascinating cast of characters. A young American au pair develops a crush on her brilliant employer. An ex-courtesan shocks the servants, a Jewish couple in hiding from the Gestapo attract the curiosity of the neighbors, and a housewife begins an affair while renovating her downstairs. Rich and poor, young and old, powerful and persecuted, all of these people are seeking something: meaning, love, a new beginning, or merely survival.

Throughout, cross-generational connections and troubled legacies haunt the same spaces, so that the rose garden, the forest pond, and the balcony off the manor’s third floor bedroom become silent witnesses to a century of human drama.

In her debut, Jane Delury writes with masterful economy and profound wisdom about growing up, growing old, marriage, infidelity, motherhood – in other words, about life – weaving a gorgeous tapestry of relationships, life-altering choices, and fleeting moments across the frame of the twentieth century. A sumptuous narrative of place that burrows deep into individual lives to reveal hidden regrets, resentments, and desires, The Balcony is brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.

Excerpt

Au Pair

In June of 1992, I left Boston for France with everything in front of me. For the next two months, I would be an au pair to Hugo and Olga Boyer’s daughter, Élodie, at their country estate near Paris. The position came to me through my advisor at Boston University, where I’d just finished a master’s degree in French and where Hugo would join the faculty in the fall. As Olga explained to my advisor, who asked me if I was interested, she and Hugo needed a jeune fille to help Élodie practice her English and to watch her mornings while Hugo worked on his book and Olga prepared the house for their departure. I would have a large, sunny room on the top floor and my afternoons and most of the weekends off. “Paris, with all of its delights, is only a brief train ride away,” Olga wrote to me in French, her handwriting large and baroque. “Élodie is an easy child, and her father and I are not monsters.” With the money I’d make, I could spend a third month in Paris and then see how I might stay on in France, where I believed I was meant to live.

When my advisor had mentioned a country estate, I imagined periwinkle shutters and roads lined with plane trees, fields of poppies and sunflowers, a village of church bells and cobblestone streets. Though I’d only been to Paris and to Nice, I thought I had an understanding of the French countryside, informed by the paintings of the impressionists and by novels such as Madame Bovary. The village of Benneville, however, turned out to be an industrial wash of smokestacks and faceless apartment buildings that ringed a center of ratty stucco storefronts. During the Second World War, Benneville had sat in the occupied zone, and the U.S. Air Force bombed the train station, missing their mark. The attack flattened the historic town center and shattered the church’s stained-glass windows, now replaced by clear panes. There was the requisite monument to the wars, and the requisite square where pigeons pecked gravel around a fountain, and old people sat on benches, looking lonely. As for the Seine, that same river that glided through Paris under the Pont Mirabeau, inspiring poets and painters, looked sullen and stagnant in Benneville, the banks cluttered with factories.

The manor, as Olga referred to the house and grounds that composed the estate, was a five-minute drive from the village, protected from the surrounding ugliness by the pines and oaks of a forêt domaniale. Clearly, the house—a bourgeois manoir of buttery limestone that stretched three stories into slate turrets and gables—had once been magnificent, but it had been hastily and cheaply remodeled in the 1970s. Past the grand doors, the historic charm gave way to flocked wallpaper, chartreuse tile, and malachite linoleum. The questionable remodel hadn’t been helped by Olga’s predilection for knickknacks. A collection of ornate mantel clocks sat on the parlor shelves under a row of vintage perfume bottles. Ancient kitchen implements—a candle mold and poissonnière, a moulin à légumes, chalky with rust—cluttered the dining room walls.

“This is what happens when you lose everything to a war,” Hugo told me as he carried my suitcase inside that first day. He skirted a stack of Turkish carpets rolled up like sausages.

“Très drôle,” Olga said. “I was a single woman in an enormous house for years and years,” she told me. “I needed to fill the space.”

We climbed the marble waterfall of a staircase, Élodie’s hand in mine. She was tiny for a four-year-old, with eyes the color of pennies and skin so pale that you could see a branch of veins on her right cheek. She’d adopted me instantly at the airport. On the drive to Benneville, she taught me the game of barbichette. She held my chin and I held hers, and the first one to laugh got a light slap on the cheek.

“Hugo and I are down that hall,” Olga said on the second-floor landing, “with Élodie next door.”

“I have a train set,” Élodie said. “Maman set it up for me. It runs all the way under the bed.” She squeezed my hand to punctuate her point.

Many of the ten bedrooms, Olga said as we went up the next flight, remained in the same triste état, or sad state, in which they’d been when she inherited the manor. “Thus all of the closed doors.” She was determined, she said, to hold on to the house and the grounds, but the upkeep of a property like this one cost a fortune.

“If you hear thumping at night, don’t fear ghosts,” Hugo said. “It’s only the pipes.”

On the third floor, we walked into a room big as my entire apartment in Back Bay.

“Et voilà,” Olga said, “votre petit coin de paradis.”

French doors, open like most of the windows in the house, led to a balcony with a view of the forest. I could imagine a gilded dressing table and four-poster bed, although the current décor consisted of a vinyl armoire that closed with a zipper and a lumpy, high bed covered with a paisley duvet.

“It’s the prettiest room,” Olga said. “It was mine for years.”

Hugo set down my bags. “Vous n’êtes pas dépressive, j’espère. We specifically requested a young woman in good mental health.”

“Stop that, Hugo,” Olga said. Once, she explained to me matter-of-factly, the lady of the house had jumped off the balcony, where Élodie had gone and was now calling to me to come join her. “Madame Léger had been in her youth a famous courtesan, a grande horizontale of the Second Empire. She was forty when she died. It was said that she hadn’t taken well to the aging process.”

“It might have only been meant as a dramatic gesture,” Hugo said. “She had a réputation de folle. It is only three stories. Only she landed poorly and broke her neck.”

“Don’t worry,” I said, as I went to join Élodie. “I grew up in the Midwest. We don’t go crazy.”

“Hemingway aside,” Hugo said.

I had tried to be clever and he had outclevered me. I was used to this kind of behavior from men in academia. I was a good student of French—solid in my verbal constructions, even the plus-que-parfait, versed in the gender distinctions of nouns. My accent was passable. My graduate school papers on Flaubert’s love letters and the symbol of the corset in the nineteenth-century novel received As. But I was not brilliant. I would have preferred in some ways to be terrible.

Outside, Élodie stood on her tiptoes on the balcony, looking over the iron railing, which was supported by spindles that looped and twisted in a rusted web.

“Il y a un étang,” Élodie said—there’s a pond. She pointed at an island of light in the dark forest sprawling from the stone walls around the estate.

“We could walk to it.”

She shook her head. “On ne peut pas. There are wolves.”

Later, in the kitchen, as I helped Olga make dinner, I asked her about what Élodie had said.

“Non,” Olga said. “The wolves of France are long gone.”

Élodie, she told me, had suffered a bad case of pneumonia that spring and had spent a week in the hospital. Her lungs remained weak, leaving her susceptible to another infection.

“We must not overexert her with long rambles. And the forest is filled with spores and damp.” She was making a mayonnaise, whisking the egg yolk and oil in a bowl. “Élodie is stubborn,” she said, “an adventuress, like you. We used to picnic by the pond. I told her that a villager had spotted a wolf. Sometimes you have to lie to children to keep them safe.” She tilted the whisk in my direction. “Here, you try.”

It was then, over the making of the mayonnaise, that I learned how my mornings with Élodie would go. There would be no borrowing the Renault to take her for ice cream at the glacerie I’d seen as we drove through Benneville, no excursions to nearby lieux d’intérêt. We would remain solely on the grounds of the estate. “Because I miss her, you see,” Olga said, “though I have so much to do. I want to keep her close.” She touched my elbow. “Try to go a bit faster. You want the egg whites to conquer the oil or the mayonnaise won’t take.”

The next morning, I woke up to Olga’s knock on the door and her voice calling, “Il est huit heures, Brigitte.” I did a quick toilette in the adjoining bathroom, working my hair into a messy chignon and, since I was going to spend the morning with a four-year-old, putting on jeans and a T-shirt, which I’d ironed the previous night. These small details of domestic life—the ironing of everything, including sheets, the fact that milk was sold unrefrigerated and baking soda sold at the pharmacy, the smallness of toilet paper rolls, the gummy flaps of envelopes, the way Olga had asked me if I had my period because mayonnaise wouldn’t set if made by a menstruating woman, the grains of sea salt in the butter we ate with the daily baguette—made that first week interesting. One afternoon, Olga took me with her to do the shopping, and we stood in front of the counter at the Boucherie Marcel as she and the butcher—an old man with a lip curled by a scar—explained to me the different cuts of meat: tripes and brains and blood sausages, the thick steaks of horse flank. I bought a copy of the newspaper Libération at the tabac, learned the names of politicians, drank my water without ice, perfected my chignon. I felt that I was becoming French, that the transformation begun in a middle school classroom years before was growing into a truth. I would learn, by living with Olga, and Hugo, and Élodie, a new authenticity.

Breakfast, we ate outside on a lopsided table in a cracked and mossy courtyard. Hugo finished before the rest of us, and then he’d retreat to his study for the duration of the day to work on his biography of the Malagasy poet Rado Koto. A specialist in the literature of the French colonies, Hugo had not seemed attractive in the book jacket photo I saw when I looked him up at the BU library—a middle-aged man with too much forehead and not enough chin, eccentric tufts of hair, and drooping eyes. In flesh and in bone, though, as the French goes, he let off the sensuality of the brilliant. He ran the Études Francophones department at the Sorbonne. His book on the literature of colonial Africa had made him a Knight of the Legion of Honor. According to grad student rumor at BU, he had approached the department about a position, and they’d created one for him. Several heads shorter than he, Olga was stout and pudgy-fingered, with graying hair that thinned around her temples, and a pair of reading glasses always on a chain around her neck. I’d calculated that she must be in her late forties, a few years older than Hugo. She had teased him once at dinner that he’d fallen in love with her because she kept the ink cartridges of his stylos plumes refilled, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if this was true.

After Hugo had disappeared to his study, Olga would measure out Élodie’s medicine drops into a glass of water and grenadine. Then Élodie and I took a collection of books from the still-unboxed library back outside, to a bench under a chestnut tree that was covered by fungal growths, as ribbed and full as outcrops of coral. We’d sit in the shade for an hour or two, the sun ticking over the forest. As I read aloud to Élodie, translated, and answered her questions, I was often elsewhere in my mind, planning a weekend trip to Paris, imagining the apartment I would find for my August in the city, and then—turning the pages, saying car, voiture, moon, lune—the great workings of my future: an under-the-table job in a bookstore or café, a student visa, enrollment in a PhD program, an apartment with a view of the Seine, lovers, a perfect accent, fresh croissants every morning from the bakery on the corner of my cobblestone street.

Regarde, Brigitte,” Élodie would say, looking up, “a bird.”

“Don’t move,” I’d whisper, and Élodie would whisper, “No moving.”

Above our heads, in the glossy canopy of chestnut leaves, a finch or sparrow rested on a branch, or worried a catkin with its beak.

“What does a bird say?” I’d ask after the bird flew away.

“Cheep, cheep,” Élodie would say.

The differences between animal noises in French and English made Élodie laugh. Why did a bird say cheep, cheep in English and cui, cui in French? Why did one pig oink and another pig groin, groin? Why woof, woof instead of ouaf, ouaf? Did a rooster that cried cock-a-doodle-doo know to cry cocorico instead if it moved to France? “Do rivers sound different in America too, Brigitte?” she asked me once.

Done reading, we’d take the path cut into a jungle of ivy and weeds back to the courtyard and leave the books on the breakfast table. Élodie would call out, “Maman,” once, twice, to the rear of the manor until Olga appeared from this window or that, like the cuckoo in the clock. “We are going for our walk now,” Élodie added, in English, as I’d taught her, and Olga would wave and tell us, in French, to have a good time and to be safe, as if we were heading off into the forest or along the road to Benneville, when in fact our walk would only take us around the manor and down the front drive.

The first night at dinner, Olga had told me the history of the property and of the surrounding area. Benneville had never been une métropole, she said, even before the destruction of the war. The village got its name from a monk on pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint Denis in Paris who, having stopped by the Seine for the night, cured a child of smallpox with his blessing. Over the centuries, the land around the village had been forested and used as hunting grounds for the royal party as an alternative to Fontainebleau. After the revolution, fields replaced forest. The commerce on the Seine moved to bigger ports such as Honfleur, and people mostly made a living through sustenance farming. One such farming family produced a boy named Jean-Paul Léger, who joined the French army, fought in the Second Opium War, and, having learned the secrets of silkworm farming, opened a factory in Lyon and became the leading supplier of silk to the regime of the Second Empire. When Léger made his first fortune, he bought a large parcel of the forest where he’d played as a child to build a summer estate for his wife and son. Limestone from a quarry that later became the pond gave the façade its luminescent exterior. The walls of the manor were papered in silk from the Léger factory, and the ironwork of the balcony and of a pergola in the garden was designed to resemble silk thread. In addition to the manor, there was a cottage near the main road to house the estate’s servants.

Léger’s son, who inherited the property, had no children, his wife, the aforementioned grande horizontale, having broken her neck on the flagstones of the courtyard. The manor was “never quite so grand again,” Olga said. The next owner, an industriel named Émile Vouette, expanded the only real commerce in Benneville at the time, a sawmill on the Seine that had been converted into a nightclub. “You might have noticed the blinking breasts on the roof from the nationale,” Olga said. After Émile Vouette died, his widow eventually sold the former servants’ cottage and grew old alone in the manor. Her son, in turn, sold the property to Olga’s parents in 1943.

“They had tried to immigrate to the U.S. and were denied visas,” Olga said. “So they came here. I suppose they thought they’d be safe this far from the city. They had forged identity cards and millions of francs in cash. But they were arrested by the Gestapo soon after they moved into the manor and were sent to Drancy.”

Olga’s mother was pregnant at the time of the arrest, and Olga was born in the camp. A worker, later hanged by the French milice, smuggled the baby to safety in a laundry cart. Olga was raised in an orphanage in Paris. After some legal battles, the property came to her as the legal owner. The manor had been destroyed by looters during the war, Olga’s parents’ belongings sold on the black market. “Nothing remained,” she told me, except for a set of wooden nesting dolls—the outside figure an old woman in a red and yellow sarafan—that stood on Élodie’s nightstand. The dolls, Olga said, were originals from Abramtsevo, near Moscow, where her parents had lived before moving to France. “Someone must have put them back.”

Olga had repaired and remodeled the interior of the manor as best she could. Later, she met Hugo at the Sorbonne, where she worked as a librarian, and once they were married, moved to his apartment on the rue Mouffetard, my favorite street in Paris. Summers, they spent in Benneville. “Hugo gets bored out here in the country,” Olga had said. “But it’s good for his focus. We don’t socialize. We are considered summer people, and I remain a Jew.”

Having exchanged our goodbyes with Olga, Élodie and I headed along the courtyard, past a dry marble fountain shaped like an urn and circled by the pedestals of missing statues. We snaked through the maze of an overgrown topiary—where Élodie stopped to name the shapes she saw in the messy bushes (a cat, a dog, a castle), then passed by a muddle of vines and nettles that humped over horned and shriveled rosebushes. In the middle of the rose garden was the iron pergola, the design of which matched the balcony and which had been meant, originally, to resemble a cocoon. Now, dripping with ivy and ropes of wisteria, it looked instead like a sea monster, tentacles reaching every which way.

At the front of the manor, we continued on toward the main road, hopping over the shadows of the plane trees that lined the drive. I made up stories that involved princesses, ogres, witches, and goblins. If the plot got too quiet—a princess locked in her tower too long, waiting for a prince—Élodie would prompt me. “Et donc,” she’d say, and I’d add in a knock at the door, a sudden storm, the hand of a giant raised to the window, offering escape.

Where the drive met the main road, we turned around to go back to the manor, passing, again, the former servants’ cottage: a tight two-story house made of meaner stone than the manor, with a lichen-blotched roof and a lopsided chimney. The lawn in front ran to the road, broken up by beds of peonies. Out back, a well, closed with a sheet of metal, stood near a massive vegetable garden with a fence draped in raspberry vines. An old man and his wife, Monsieur and Madame Havre, lived in the cottage. During the war, Olga had told me, Monsieur Havre was the director of the boys’ school in Benneville and a leader of the local resistance. Now he was as slow and stiff as an automaton, often outside, hunched over a row of beans or training cucumber vines in the vegetable garden.

By the second week of this calm routine, I was well over my jet lag and starting to feel stir crazy. Would they mind, I asked Hugo and Olga at breakfast, if I used the bicycle that I’d seen in the potting shed behind the pergola? I thought I’d go for a ride on one of the logging roads that cut through the forest.

“What bicycle?” Hugo said. He was dunking a piece of baguette into his bowl of coffee as Olga cut toast into strips for Élodie to dip in the yolk of her soft-boiled egg.

“Mine,” Olga said. She cracked the crown of the egg with a spoon. “It must be terribly rusted now.”

“I didn’t notice,” I said.

“Oh, to have the eyes of the young,” Hugo said. He looked over at Olga. “I didn’t know you could ride a bicycle.”

“I used to take it to the village for bread, before the road became a nationale,” she said, scooping the egg off the shell. “Now you’d risk your life.”

That afternoon, Élodie down for her nap, Olga helped me to clean the cobwebs from the bike, fill the tires with air, and drip oil on the chain. I headed off shakily over the blanket of grass and ivy to the gate that led to the forest. My father had taught me to ride a bike in the driveway of our rancher in the suburbs of Chicago, one hand on the back of the banana seat and another on my shoulder. Like other suburban kids in the 1970s, I rode without a helmet or supervision to the bowling alley and shopping mall. Chicago was flat, and it wasn’t until I was older, doing my undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley, that I discovered mountain biking and the excitement of hills. This bike, though, was the furthest you could imagine from a mountain bike, with narrow tires, a high frame, and no suspension. Still, it could go fast. By my second outing, I knew the trails that forked into thicker paths that forked into logging roads. I cranked the pedals, whipped around turns, braced myself when the front tire hit a rut or a tree root, maneuvered around the pyramids of felled logs.

On my fourth ride, near a clearing wild with daisies, I found the pond Élodie had shown me from the balcony, the former stone quarry. It was about half the size of a football field with banks cut at jig-jag angles. On one side, willow trees spilled in a fluorescent blur. On the other side was a heap of quarried stone of the same creamy color as the manor, topped by a marble cross. Water lilies floated on the surface of the pond, dragonflies hovering, butterflies flitting, the willow trees shushing. The quiet was beautiful. I laid down the bike and, in one of those moments of youthful solitude when one is one’s own voyeur, took off my shorts and T-shirt and slipped down the bank. I dog-paddled between the water lilies until I noticed that my arms were coated in a layer of slime. The quiet suddenly felt foreboding. I swam back toward the shore. Maybe, I thought, during the German occupation, the bodies of partisans had been thrown into the quarry, thus the cross. Maybe I was floating in a burial ground. I swam faster, pulled myself up the bank, panicky now, then put on my clothes and rode back quickly to the manor, where I showered the slime from my skin.

A week or so into my riding, I came out of the forest to find Hugo standing with Élodie near the rose garden, looking down at the grass, a cigarette between his thumb and middle finger.

“A toad,” Élodie said. “We’re going to catch it.”

“We’re trying to, anyway,” Hugo told me. “She woke up early from her nap. And Olga is at the butcher’s, pursuing a roast.”

“I can take over if you need to work,” I said.

“No. I’m stuck anyway. I’m writing with no idea of where I’m going. Pedaling with my eyes closed, as you seem to do.” He smiled. “You go fast on that old thing. I wouldn’t want to be on a trail when you come by.”

“I like to go fast,” I said.

Through the cigarette smoke, I smelled alcohol, that smell it takes on in a man when he’s had a lot to drink and it’s evaporating through the pores of his skin. I understood now why a bottle of mineral water accompanied our dinners rather than a bottle of wine, understood the lack of the traditional aperitif.

“It’s a baby.” Élodie dropped to her hands and knees to study the toad.

“Or maybe it’s a frog,” I said.

As the three of us approached the toad, it jumped between my legs.

Hugo tossed aside the cigarette. “I’ll get you, you little sneak.” He lunged at the toad and plucked it from the grass. “Victoire.” He looked at me as the toad writhed and batted its feet. “What have I been doing inside that house when there were delights like this right outside?”

“Let it go, Papa.” Élodie said. “Please. It doesn’t like that. I don’t want to catch it anymore.”

Hugo set the toad in the grass and it hopped away. He leaned over to kiss Élodie on the top of her head.

“You’re right, ma bichette,” he said. “Pardonne-moi.”

Élodie’s face looked thin and tight. I was afraid she would cry. “Let’s make crêpes, shall we?” I said. Olga had shown me how to mix the thin batter, and Élodie laughed at my attempts at flipping the crêpes into the air and catching them in the pan.

“We will never have her goodness,” Hugo said as we followed Élodie back to the house. He looked chagrined. And he was definitely tipsy.

“I certainly won’t,” I said.

Élodie chattered away ahead of us, and we weren’t listening. Hugo pointed at the fountain. “Nine pedestals,” he said. “You know what that must mean.”

I hadn’t seen this detail before. “Les Muses?”

“Gone,” he said. “Every last one of them. I’ll have to find my inspiration elsewhere.” He smiled at me again. “I’ll tell you a secret. I don’t know how to ride a bicycle.”

“I could teach you.”

“I’m sure you could,” he said.

That was when things shifted. I’d become more interesting to Hugo as I flew out of the forest into his alcohol daze, and he became more interesting to me. He was an obsessive genius with an addiction. He was smart and tortured. I’d discovered his allure.

At dinner that night, he asked if I’d heard of the Malagasy poet Rado Koto, the subject of his book. Well, I said, I’d read some of Koto’s poems in an anthology when my advisor told me about Hugo’s research. “In case you asked me that question.”

“Perhaps I was waiting for you to ask,” he said.

The four of us were eating bœuf bourguignon at a dining room table stacked with dishes waiting to be boxed.

“Did you read his poem ‘Benneville’?” Hugo asked. “It’s about the village.”

Genre:

  • "Shimmering... this multigenerational cast of characters has the reach of an epic novel... The vivid intimacy of Delury's canvas is enhanced by descriptive prose at once concise and lush."—New York Times
  • "With the assurance of a seasoned pro, Jane Delury spans decades, adopts a multitude of voices, and explores with the keen-eyed sensibility of Elena Ferrante or Claire Messud marriage, infidelity, motherhood, aging, money, greed, and the workings of fate. A complex and utterly engaging debut."—Alice McDermott
  • "The Balcony is sweeping, suspenseful, rich with surprises and eerie atmosphere. Jane Delury arrives on the scene of her debut with a sensibility fully formed and a breathtaking array of writerly gifts at her command."—Jennifer Egan
  • "From the opening pages of The Balcony I was enthralled by Jane Delury's picture of Benneville and by her expansive sense of character. In ways both profound and moving she shows on page after beautiful page how her characters live inextricably in a time and a place. A stellar debut."—MargotLivesey, New York Times bestsellingauthor of Mercury
  • "A subtly crafted and richly rewarding debut book of fiction...reminiscent of Olive Kitteredge...It is no stretch to mention Delury and [Elizabeth] Strout in the same sentence: Delury's debut book, with wise observations, intriguing twists and indelibly drawn characters, is filled with reading pleasures...The Balcony is an American's love letter to France, and a compelling saga spanning France's past century."—The Washington Post
  • "An entrancing debut...instantly engaging."—People
  • "Jane Delury's gifts as a writer of fiction are in such abundance here, it is difficult to know where to begin: her characters - each and every one - whether male or female, young or old, French or American, wealthy or just barely surviving, a child of the 20th century or one-hundred years earlier - are living, breathing human beings I came to love and, in some cases, to mourn. Her landscapes are rendered as deftly as an impressionist painter's, and the pacing of each narrative in this exquisitely rendered novel-in-stories is downright masterly. But, what I admire most about The Balcony, is the depth and range of its inherent humanity. I adore this book. It is a true work of art and a most impressive literary debut."—Andre Dubus III
  • "In an assured debut, a delicate fretwork of lives, relationships, and secrets is built up over the course of a century-and linked by a manor in an ugly French village... Strikingly deft and nuanced; a writer to watch."—Kirkus (Starred Review)
  • "A satisfying puzzle of a debut novel...Each chapter of the novel could be a full-fledged short story on its own; together, they reveal a pattern that only completes itself with the final one."—Booklist
  • "With immense storytelling gifts and spare but luminous prose, [Delury] is one of the few writers whose debut will have readers begging for a second novel...Delury is sure to win the hearts of all those who appreciate a smart, elegantly written story."—BookPage
  • "The Balcony is a delightful literary page-turner in the best sense of the word. I loved these characters, and the way Jane Delury has woven them together is wonderfully surprising, heartbreaking, and elegant. In terms of 'smart books about going abroad', it's up there with The Vacationers and Helen Walsh's The Lemon Grove. I was sad when it ended-always a good sign."—Katie Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Girls in Trucks
  • "Not just an extraordinary first novel, The Balcony is the accomplished work of a writer already at ease with a rich combination of language, character and consummate storytelling."—Shelf Awareness

On Sale
Mar 19, 2019
Page Count
256 pages
Publisher
Back Bay Books
ISBN-13
9780316554688

Jane Delury

About the Author

Jane Delury‘s fiction has appeared in Narrative, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, The Yale Review, and Glimmer Train. She has received a PEN/O. Henry Prize, the F. Scott Fitzgerald Story Award, a VCCA fellowship, and grants from the Maryland State Arts Council. She holds an MA in literary studies from the University of Grenoble, France, and an MA in fiction from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. She teaches in the University of Baltimore’s MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts program.

Learn more about this author