Thursday, August 30, 2012

FFB: The End of Her Honeymoon by Marie Belloc Lowndes


And then Dampier turned and caught her, this time unresisting, yielding joyfully, to his breast. "Nancy?" he murmured thickly. "Nancy? I'm afraid!"

"Afraid?" she repeated wonderingly.

"Yes, horribly afraid! Pray, my pure angel, pray that the gods may indulge their cruel sport elsewhere. I haven't always been happy, Nancy."

And she clung to him, full of vague, unsubstantial fears. "Don't talk like that," she murmured. "It--it isn't right to make fun of such things."

"Make fun? Good God!" was all he said.






Nancy Dampier is in a happy frame of mind when she enters Paris on the last night of her honeymoon. The next day, she and her husband, the artist Jack Dampier, will move into Jack's house and begin a new chapter in their lives. Jack, an Englishman, long settled in Paris, had crossed the channel to paint a portrait. A chance meeting with Nancy led to a whirlwind romance and marriage. Both Nancy and Jack being orphans, there was no one to oppose the match; in fact, Nancy's friends were more than happy for her to have finally found herself a lover.


Man and wife, but in some ways strangers to each other still, the happy couple walks into the Hotel Saint Ange, a hotel made famous because Edgar Allan Poe stayed there during his sojourn in Paris. Unfortunately, for them, it being an exhibition year, the rooms are all full and the best that the Poulains, the owners of the hotel, can do is to give them separate rooms.

After promising his wife that he'll rise early in the morning and go and set his studio for her welcome, Jack retires to his room. The next day, Nancy wakes up with a disagreeable feeling. There is no one to attend to her and when she rings the bell to summon somebody that too is ignored. Irritable and hungry, she ventures out of the room and is startled when Mrs. Poulain, the proprietress, addresses her as mademoiselle rather than madame. When Nancy asks her (in her halting French) about her husband, the woman shocks her by saying that she knows not of any such man and that the previous night Nancy had arrived alone to the hotel.

Feeling that there has been some miscommunication (after all her knowledge of French is zilch), Nancy enlists the help of Senator Burton, an American staying at the hotel along with his son and daughter. The Senator, questions the Poulains but they are adamant that Nancy had arrived alone at the hotel without any escort. The Senator is perplexed as he has known them for a considerable time and they have always been honest and truthful  He has his misgivings about Nancy's version of the event but despite this he helps her in every way as his children are convinced that Nancy is telling the truth.

From then on it is running to and fro in search for the missing man: Jack's studio, the Police stations, the British embassy, even the morgue...but everywhere they run up against a wall... and days turn into weeks, months...

Conspiracy theories mount: Jack must have been a scoundrel to leave his wife thus; Nancy is suffering from some memory-loss; Jack must have met with an accident... So what really happened? Who is telling the truth and who is not and if so to what purpose?





This book had been on my wishlist since last year and I'd have enjoyed it more had I not read Ethel Lina White's The Wheel Spins (The Lady Vanishes) in the meantime. Through that book I became acquainted with the urban legend of the man who disappeared during the World Fair in Paris and thus this book lost some of its element of suspense. However, it is to the credit of the author Belloc Lowndes (and what a find she has been!) that despite reading about Nancy and Jack checking in, I really did wonder at times.

Somehow the character of Nancy too got on my nerves. My sympathies, in fact, were with Senator Burton who often feels that this problem had become a load round his neck especially since his children seemed to be so enamoured of Nancy.

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First Line: "Cocher? l'Hôtel Saint Ange, Rue Saint Ange!"

Title: The End of Her Honeymoon

Author: Marie Belloc Lowndes

First Published: 1913

Other Books read of the Same Author: The Story of Ivy


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The book is in the public domain and can be downloaded for free. I downloaded it from manybooks.net.


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The rest of the post contains SPOLIERS so please don't read any further unless you've read the book. But please do scroll down and leave a comment.:)






To me this book was the tragedy of Jack Dampier. How many dreams that young man had of setting up a home with Nancy. How keen he was that Nancy enjoy Paris in its beauty. How considerate he was that Nancy not be disturbed. And how lonesome his last hours must have been when he'd have felt himself abandoned by everyone in that hospital. And even if he had survived and come back he'd have found his wife in love with another man and no longer desiring him... I simply can't get him out of my head.

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Submitted for the following challenges: British Books, Death by Gaslight, E Book, Mystery and Suspense, Vintage Mystery, and Wishlist.

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Entry for Friday's Forgotten Books

10 comments:

  1. The only book of hers I have ever come across is THE LODGER, probably because of the various movie adaptations, but this one does sound intriguing and the Paris Expo story is a very compelling in all its variants (one of my favourites is John Dickson Carr's radio play, CABIN B-13).

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    1. More than this Sergio, I enjoyed the first book that I read of hers: The Story of Ivy. Wonder why Belloc Lowndes is not more well-known because she is pretty terrific in creating a gripping plot and atmosphere. In fact, all through the reading of Ivy, I felt I was sitting on the edge of a precipice.

      I haven't heard of Carr's play but will try to see if I can get a copy of it.

      Thanks for having a look.

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  2. This is a good one. But new readers may find it very familiar by the time it rolls around to the surprise finale. Problem is the story has been ripped off so many times by writers who claim it is based on a true story. (I think it's an urban legend myself.) I think Belloc Lowndes wrote it first and she rarely is ever credited with that. They are at least two filmed versions one of which -- SO LONG AT THE FAIR (1950) with Jean Simmons -- is very good.

    By all means avoid the TV adaptation with Patricia Hitchcock (a horrible actress!) playing the lead in an episode from her father's anthology series. She just can't muster up any real emotion. Ever. Everything she does is fake and manufactured. It's embarrassing to watch her in a lead role. She simply doesn't have the right stuff.

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    1. You are absolutely right John. When I read a summary of it at the fag end of last year at manybooks, I was like OMG! I want to read this. It'd have been better had I done so. But by becoming acquainted with the legend in the meantime, this novel lost its novelty. Yet Belloc Lowndes scores because she makes it the tragedy of a newly-wedded couple. I simply cannot understand why she isn't more well-known.

      Had no idea that the book had been filmed and adapted for the T.V. Will try to see if I can get So Long at the Fair. No idea about Patricia Hitchcock but now really want to watch her (non)perform. :)

      Thanks for having a look.

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    2. Well, if you really *have* to watch Pat Hitchcock, "Into Thin Air" can be viewed for free at Hulu.com. Click here. Don't say I didn't warn you. ;^)

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    3. Thanks for the link. Will have a look at it asap.

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