Book Review: 'The Lost Estate' By Alain-Fournier | The scent of fresh pencils is in the air, and homework assignments are around the corner. In honor of back-to-school season, author Alexander Aciman recommends The Lost Estate by Henri Alain-Fournier.
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As Summer Winds Down, Wistful Dreams Of A 'Lost Estate'

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As Summer Winds Down, Wistful Dreams Of A 'Lost Estate'

Review

As Summer Winds Down, Wistful Dreams Of A 'Lost Estate'

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's that time again. The smell of fresh pencils is in the air. School supply aisles bustle with shoppers. Visions of class assignments dance in the minds of teachers and maybe some students too. The school year is at hand and to capture that late summer feeling here's author Alexander Aciman with a reading recommendation.

ALEXANDER ACIMAN: The summer before I went to college my grandfather died. And since he was a compulsive re-reader I kept a few his books - the ones that looked the most hadered. One of them was "The Lost Estate" by Henri Alain-Fournier. It turned out to be the perfect book for someone just days away from school. The story begins with the arrival of a student in a small French town. Through the eyes of the headmasters son we meet Augustin Meaulnes and the two quickly become friends. This new boy is restless. He can't seem to settle into a routine. He loves life as a student, he's always the first in line for morning inspection but he also sneaks away from the school. One night he stumbles on a party at a hidden and possibly magical estate. He returns claiming he fell in love with a girl there. Years later in his letters to the narrator he still talks about her. I like to imagine that someone will gently take my arm, he writes, I should look around and she would be there.

ACIMAN: Without ever actually announcing it "The Lost Estate" is about feeling tied to life as a student but hoping that something more enchanting will come along and distract us. Meaulnes embodies this push and pull. He's uncompromisingly youthful, refusing to abandon this adventure from his days as a student. But at the same time he can't be tied down to school. He wants to be set off course, to live in a perpetual summer vacation. It's the same thing I always felt when summer began to wind down and staples started pushing back-to-school specials. I prepared for the inevitable but still hoped to avoid it, noticing a desire to take off at night and peer into the strange unknown estate, ready to be swept off my feet.

SIEGEL: The book is "The Lost Estate" by Henri Alain-Fournier. It was recommended by Alexander Aciman. His latest book is "Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books In 20 Tweets Or Less."

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