Places: The Closed Garden

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: Adrienne Mesurat, 1927 (English translation, 1928)

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Psychological realism

Time of work: 1908

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places DiscussedLa Tour L’Evêque

La Closed Garden, TheTour L’Evêque (lah tewr leh-VEK). Fictional French provincial town to which the widowed Antoine Mesurat retires in the company of his two daughters, Germaine and Adrienne. Its buildings tend to be ugly, its residents contentious and impertinent. Its landmarks described are typical of any small French town, with streets named for military figures and patriotic concerts in the town square. As the narrative proceeds, Adrienne feels increasingly hemmed in by a circle of watchful eyes. Before arousing her father’s protective instincts, she enjoys walking through the town, unaware that even then, she is doubtless being watched.

Villa des Charmes

Villa des Charmes (vee-ya day sharm). Mesurat family residence, grandly named for two hornbeam trees (charme in French) planted in the gated front yard, the closed garden of the novel’s English title. Thirty-five year old Germaine, a self-proclaimed invalid, remains housebound until her sudden departure; her eighteen-year-old sister, Adrienne, is at first free to leave the house at will, but after the death of their father–in what may or may not be an accident–remains virtually imprisoned inside the Villa des Charmes. The house itself is described as ugly, built economically with more windows than bricks. In the novel’s opening scene, young Adrienne is shown cleaning house, moving heavy furniture with apparent ease and casting reproving glances at the ancestral portraits hanging on the walls. Before long, however, her appearance of robust health gives way to delusions and fainting; the house itself, meanwhile, appears to Adrienne in terms of dark shadows and steep staircases.

Villa Louise

Villa Louise. Neighboring residence, rented to the enigmatic Léontine Legras, at the very least a “kept” woman, with possible criminal connections. Adrienne occasionally seeks companionship at the Villa Louise with this neighbor, who is by turns friendly and treacherous. After Antoine Mesurat’s sudden death, Madame Legras threatens to reveal Adrienne’s possibly murderous secret, finally taking advantage of Adrienne’s near-catatonic state to rob her of gold and jewels.

From the start of the novel, the Villa Louise stands as an important landmark, at first empty in anticipation of the new tenant’s arrival, then as one of the few buildings that can be seen from the Villa des Charmes. At the end of the novel, the Villa Louise again stands empty, Madame Legras having defaulted on her lease and absconded with her plunder.

*Montfort L’Amaury

*Montfort L’Amaury. Town southwest of Paris that is Adrienne’s first stop on her ill-fated attempt to escape from La Tour L’Evêque. From here Adrienne mails her self-incriminating letter to Dr. Denis Maurecourt, the object of her unrequited affections.


*Dreux. Small city west of Montfort on the same train line that is the second and final stop on Adrienne’s brief journey. Here Adrienne checks into a hotel, suffers a nightmare in which she fancies herself to have contracted Germaine’s illness, and goes to a pharmacy in search of remedies. She then roams the town, admiring its landmarks and markets, briefly attracting the attention of a young workman whom she first sends away, then tries to find. Adrienne’s visit to Dreux serves to highlight the increasing severity of her mental condition.

BibliographyBurne, Glenn S. Julian Green. New York: Twayne, 1972. Study of Green’s literary achievement. Discusses the structure of The Closed Garden; comments on the development of the protagonist, a “solid young lady” who is subdued by fate.Dunaway, John M. The Metamorphoses of the Self: The Mystic, the Sensualist, and the Artist in the Works of Julien Green. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1978. Comments on the novel are included in a study that explores the biographical genesis of Green’s major fiction.Reck, Rima Drell. Literature and Responsibility: The French Novelist in the Twentieth Century. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1969. Characterizes Green as an iconoclast whose impact on fiction has been limited but important. Focuses on the sense of isolation the novelist evokes in The Closed Garden.Stansbury, Milton H. French Novelists of Today. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1935. A chapter on Green emphasizes the importance of The Closed Garden on his career; notes how successful the novelist is in creating a portrait of his tortured heroine.Stokes, Samuel. Julian Green and the Thorn of Puritanism. New York: King’s Crown Press, 1955. Study of Green’s novels, concentrating on the various intellectual influences that help explain the spiritual background of his work. Discusses Green’s use of fiction to relate the lives of individuals to the society in which they live.
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