Ugolin has a dream. He will grow flowers and make his fortune but the only water supply is on his neighbour’s land. By the time Jean Cadoret inherits the land, Ugolin and his Papet have blocked his spring and devised a plan to make him fail. Cadoret (or de Florette, as inhabitants are named after their mothers) is an eternal optimist. Despite being a hunchback he toils endlessly to make a living, against the criminally stacked odds, leading to his eventual death. The second book tells how his daughter has her revenge on those who thwarted her father and those who stood by and watched it happen. But the greatest tragedy of all has to do with the proud Soubeyran dynasty and the misunderstanding caused by a love letter which went astray.
Saturday, 28 July 2012
JEAN DE FLORETTE and MANON DES SOURCES (Published together as THE WATER OF THE HILLS) – Marcel Pagnol, 1962
I came to the novels via the films. In the late 80s, after seeing them numerous times at the local Arts Centre, I bought them on video. I was watching Jean de Florette one night when my Dad came in. He has accumulated a wealth of knowledge about natural history over the years. He saw one scene – Ugolin planting his flowers - “Chrysanthemums: You’ll need a lot of water for them, George,” he said. In those few words, he unwittingly provided the perfect summary of this fine tragedy.