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244 pp. Little, Brown. $26. Image. When a young American university graduate arrives at an old French manor to work as an au pair, her fantasies of provincial charms à la Flaubert and Manet are dispelled by the austere industrial landscape she encounters. The tensions between country-idyll expectations and dispiriting realities course throughout this shimmering debut novel, whose time-hopping narrative depicts the interconnected journeys of the estate’s sundry inhabitants from its 19th-century origins to the recent past. The decay and slapdash renovations of the manor and its adjoining cottage become a metaphor for the shifting familial bonds of these residents, whose lives are variousl... Full story

13 June