The short chapters and intriguing secrets may tempt you to race through. Slow down as this is a book to savour - sensuous and rich yet surprisingly sharp and cynical. You'll never think of village life in the same way again.
As he inhaled his last mouthful of smoke, on that same apple-jam morning, Courrier thanked heaven (heaven in general, without singling out any one of its potential inhabitants) that he did not love Agnes Duval. Then he kissed the smooth forehead that came up to the level of his chin (he might almost have taken her measurements before marrying her!) watched the pink of her ample gums being uncovered by her smile, and left the house in his shirt sleeves, just as dawn was breaking on a summer's day.