Bowen is one of those writers in whose books I could happily spend the rest of my life; there is something incredibly luxurious about her work. I still can't decide whether or not The House in Paris is my favourite of hers, but that is not to its detriment.
The premise is simple enough: two children spend a day together in a house, unsurprisingly in Paris, and as they begin to interact Bowen begins to slowly unravel their reasons for being in the house.
Though the plot at first glance seems basic, Bowen fills her novel with so many larger ideas. Namely that of age and understanding; her portrayal of the two children in the novel appears stunning in it's honesty. Rather than going down the route of giving us two precocious children, via which she can explore a wealth of themes, she presents us with two children on the cusp of understanding the adult world to which they both belong, yet children who still find wonder in the trivial and are often inclined to get lost in their own imagination.
One of the things I particularly enjoyed about the novel was the constant struggle between the characters and their nationalities. The way in which Bowen unravels the idea of what it actually means to be English/French/Italian etc, and what happens when you take someone out of their 'home' is truly fascinating. The subtle interplay between place and self has perhaps never been so deftly handled as it is here, and Bowen's evocation of Paris and England are flawless.
There is a particularly exquisite moment in the novel in which Bowen discusses the act of conversing in a group and our sense of self in such a situation. It cannot be more than 3 or 4 lines long, but for such a short, simple passage so much is conveyed, and not one word is wasted. Bowen is a terrific writer, and a completely brilliant story teller, both of which The House in Paris serves as testament to.