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Madame Verona Comes Down The Hill [Kindle Edition]

Dimitri Verhulst , David Colmer
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

Years ago, Madame Verona and her husband built a home for themselves on a hill in a forest above a small village. There they lived in isolation, practising their music, and chopping wood to see them through the cold winters. When Mr Verona died, the locals might have expected that the legendary beauty would return to the village, but Madame Verona had enough wood to keep her warm during the years it would take to make a cello - the instrument her husband loved - and in the meantime she had her dogs for company. And then one cold February morning, when the last log has burned, Madame Verona sets off down the village path, with her cello and her memories, knowing that she will have no strength to climb the hill again. Poignant, precise and perfectly structured, this is a story of one woman's tender and enduring love - as a wife, and as a widow.

Product Description


'This tale of enduring love is poignant and consistently charming' - Independent --Review

`An intimate, unsentimental portrayal of European rural life ... His best sentences are gorgeously resonant' - Herald --Review

'A timeless novel about love, loss and village life' - Aesthetica -- Review

`A delightful oddity of a book ... witty, wise and moving' - Books Quarterly --Review

About the Author

Born in Belgium in 1972, DIMITRI VERHULST is the author of a collection of short stories, a volume of poetry and several novels, including Problemski Hotel which was translated into English in 2003. All his books are widely translated in Europe and receive a lot of critical praise.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 282 KB
  • Print Length: 164 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1846271576
  • Publisher: Portobello Books; Tra edition (2 Feb. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0074OK53M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #274,108 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Over the hill and into the trees 19 Oct. 2009
By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Exquisitely written, Dimitri Verhulst's short novel is a work of rare beauty that is relatively uncommon in modern literature - a brief novella, a concise and poetic meditation on life, specifically on the condition of reaching the end of one's life. The life in question is that of Madame Verona, a widow living alone in a small village after the death of her husband Monsieur Potter. Although over the years her great beauty is desired by the men of the village, Madame Verona clings to the memory of her husband, keeping only the company of the stray dogs that are drawn to her - a simple but unusual attraction that she hopes will stand her in good favour in the next life.

Verhulst considers Madame Verona's condition at this delicate stage in her life principally through the setting - specifically in the little village of Oucwègne, a village build on three hills. It's to this remote little place of no more than forty people that once had a cow for a mayor that she, a piano teacher, had come to live with her husband, a renowned composer. Her husband now dead, her regular climb down the hill to the village comes to express something else - the realisation being that, in her old age, the day will come when she will not make it back up again. Adopting the tone of a fable, the novella considers the position of Madame Verona from a number of viewpoints - her own attempt to define her condition and also how she is viewed by the villagers of Oucwègne, but also through flashbacks that contrast the married woman with the widow, the younger woman with the older, and of course through the village itself which is also slowly dying in its distance from the modern world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A charming and beautifully written novella, 13 Dec. 2009
By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER
Set in an isolated, and I assume, fictional, village in the Netherlands, this gently warm, quirky book tells the story of a woman whose husband died, and who never remarried, though many of the village's inhabitants fancied themselves as husband, or at least lover, number two. Madame Verona lives alone in her isolated hill top house for well over 20 years. Eventually, as the book's title suggests, she makes the difficult journey down the hill, for the last time. Increasing age makes it harder and harder to re-ascend the hill after shopping trips etc to the village. One day, she knows, will be the last descent.

That's the plot of the book - doesn't sound like a ripping yarn, does it!

Yet Verhulst's ability to capture the particular individuals of the village, and to recount the extraordinary in 'ordinary lives' makes for a warm hearted and sweet read, full of wry, gentle humour, cute observations, and a collection of eccentric village dwellers who frankly make the denizens of 'Little Britain' look crass, unimaginative, dull and mundane.

Who wouldn't be charmed by the idea of living in a village whose inhabitants elect their mayor by awarding the honour to whoever can find a specific well hidden turnip. Which one year results in an extremely surprising mayoral winner indeed.

Although what the book is about is ultimately sad - the loss of love through the death of the beloved, and how the survivor ekes out her days and years afterwards, this novella is, as other reviewers have noted, far from maudlin or depressing. Instead, it celebrates life and oddball, unique individuality.In a strange way, despite the sadness behind the story (or lack of story) it is a most joyous book
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A small gem 6 Nov. 2009
By purplepadma VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Madame Verona Comes Down the Hill" is short - a novella, really - but beautifully written, polished and, in places, poetic. Set in a dwindling rural village, it tells the story of Madame Verona's life through her memories and those of the villagers who have observed her from the bottom of the hill. Having arrived in the village young, beautiful, and wedded to her composer husband, she captures the interest in the men of the village, who continue to yearn for her as she is forced to settle into widowhood. An exploration of love and loss which is slow-burning but ultimately charming.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Andrew Sutherland VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
You heard me right. But if that sounds grim, it shouldn't. Winter in rural Flanders: the eponymous widow, Madame Verona, old and heartbroken, goes down the hill in order to sit it out on a bench in the freezing night, Lawrence Oates-stylee, armed with a cello made from the wood of the tree from which her husband has hanged himself. What follows are her bitterswweet final memories. Verhulst has written a short, beautiful story of enduring love, shot through with with a series of strange anecdotes about village life that provide a comedy of manners to set against the doom of a very short, very good novella.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Short and sweet 26 Oct. 2009
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's not often I'd say you should definitely read a book, especially something in translation, but you should definitely read this book. Quite simply it's just an enjoyable read, despite what you might think considering the subject matter. Madame Verona comes down the hill, and she will never be able to make it up again. From this unravels the story of how she came to live on the hill in the first place, her husband Monsieur Potter, their life together, the woods on their property, the nearby village, the people there, the history... When Potter decides to hang himself instead of letting cancer take him Verona continues to live on, never quite letting go of him; even going so far as to have an ugly, terrible-sounding cello made from the tree he hung himself from... And as she waits on the hill she knows it won't be long before she's with him once again.

This is a great example of what novellas strive to be, something short and beautiful.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An excellent read.
Published 3 months ago by BKan
5.0 out of 5 stars The joy of beautiful writing
How could you not fall in love with this? The man writes like an angel, quite heavenly.

I first read it in the original Dutch and loved the poetry of his language. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Vicki Bain
4.0 out of 5 stars A widow runs out of logs
In a rural vertiginous French village of dwindling population, Madame Verona has run out of logs on a snowy winters day. She is alone in her house at the top of a steep hill. Read more
Published 11 months ago by old joanna
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and insightful tale
Not my usual type of read but the story was an intriguing tale of someone's life and loves. It did ramble a bit but came to a crisp conclusion.
Published 14 months ago by drbmd
4.0 out of 5 stars Touching and witty
An easy read with a sort of witty amusing humour - not laugh out loud but similar humour to that in The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window. Read more
Published on 22 Jan. 2013 by NikkiFranki
4.0 out of 5 stars A gem of subtlety and understatement
This is a beautiful book- short, yes! But with a depth that lasts longer than many books. Without giving too much of the plot away, this the type of book that makes the reader... Read more
Published on 27 Oct. 2011 by sussex coast
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching reflection at the close of life
Im grateful to and Amazon reviewers for persuading me to read a book I wouldn't normally consider. Read more
Published on 24 April 2011 by R. S. Edwards
4.0 out of 5 stars Bitter-sweet and Belgian
I was very taken by this concise little novella about a widow who has a cello made from the tree her husband hanged himself from. Read more
Published on 21 Mar. 2010 by doublegone
3.0 out of 5 stars A short but poignant read
This book is set in the tiny and remote village of Oucwegne, a place that is slowly dying due to the lack of girls being born in recent generations. Read more
Published on 17 Mar. 2010 by Helen S
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful novella. Well worth reading and recommending
'Madame Verona Comes down the hill' is a wonderful novella. The writing is beautiful, poetic and frequently very funny. Read more
Published on 12 Mar. 2010 by She-who-reads-while-walking
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