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Literature / Nobody's Girl

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Nobody's Girl (French: En Famille, lit. Amongst Family, 1893) is a novel by Hector Malot. The story was later translated into English as The Story of Perrine by Gil.

The story itself is about Perrine Paindavoine, a 13-year-old French-Indian girl who arrives to Paris with her gravely-ill mother, Marie. They head to a village in the French North-East named Maraucourt note , the place where Perrine's Disappeared Dad Edmond is from, to meet with her grandfather Vulfran. Marie dies of her illness despite her and Perrine selling pretty much everything in their possession to get the meds she needs, and before kicking it she warns Perrine that her grandfather won't want to take her in since he greatly objected to her and Edmond's marriage. Perrine still decides to go there so she can meet her grandfather no matter what and build her own life...


There is a Japanese anime series, Perrine Monogatari aka The Story of Perrine, based on the novel. It is part of the World Masterpiece Theater collection, which years later adapted Nobody's Boy, another of Malot's novels, into an anime called Remi, Nobody's Girl.

En Famille includes the followig tropes:

  • All-Loving Hero: Perrine's kindness knows next to no limits, and when she becomes Vulfram's companion and Morality Pet she does her best to help not just him, but all the factory workers in Maraucourt.
  • Berserk Button: No one should ever put La Rouquerie's honesty in doubt. Or try to use her in frauds. When Perrine tells her that the baker used the "counterfeit money" story, La Rouquerie gets fucking pissed because not only Perrine was in life-threatening danger, but the baker indirectly implied that LR was a con woman.
    • Vulfran is already a Grumpy Old Man, but he takes it very badly if his trust is ever betrayed. He considered Edmond as almost a traitor for choosing Marie over the Paindavoine family, and even after he comes to miss him, he can't forgive Marie (and Perrine, by association) for "taking him away".
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  • Break the Cutie: It's not a Hector Malot story without this, it seems. Perrine gets quite the dose of it: her dad dies before the story starts, she has to sell her beloved Palikare to get meds for her mom, said mom dies anyway, then she has to go to Maraucourt on her own...
  • Coming-of-Age Story: For Perrine, who has to forge her own destiny alone at the tender age of 13.
  • Cool Old Lady: La Rouquerie, the woman who buys Palikare and saves Perrine's life later.
    • Also Rosalie's kindly grandmother, Francoise.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Perrine's fluent in both French and English thanks to her background, and that helps her a LOT when she works in the factories and an interpreter is needed.
  • Deathbed Confession: Perrine had no idea about the bad blood between Vulfran and Edmond and the first's Parental Marriage Veto, so Marie explains it to her right before she dies. She even gives Perrine her and Edmond's marriage certificate that proves her heritage.
  • Downer Beginning: Perrine, Marie and Palikare arrive to Paris at the beginning of the book, and very soon Perrine has to sell Palikare to get meds for Marie and Marie dies anyway.
  • Defrosting Ice King: Vulfran becomes this as times passes.
  • Girl Next Door: Rosalie, the first friend Perrine makes in Maraucourt.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Vulfran Paindavoine is quite feared by his wicked temper, though Perrine/Aurelie's influence softens him up a bit...
  • Guile Hero: As "Aurelie", Perrine becomes the near-blind Vulfran's guide, interpreter and secretary. She realises that the increasingly old and weary old man is surrounded by ambitious smug snakes (like his nephews/potential heirs Casimir and Theodore, each young man's scheming mothers, and the executive Talouel), and must become this fast to fend these people off, protect Vulfran's interests, and avert becoming anyone's pawn.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Perrine is a blonde girl with a kind heart.
  • Ill Girl: Perrine's mother Marie is at the last stages of tuberculosis when the story begins, and dies very soon.
  • Kick the Dog: A cruel baker tricks Perrine by falsely accusing her of giving her counterfeited coins, so she can cheat her out of money. It gets worse since Perrine can't get her money back and, trying to continue on her path, collapses of hunger and fatigue. Fortunately Palikare and his kindly new owner, Cool Old Lady La Rouquerie, find her.
    • Vulfran also does this once when he rants about how much he blames Marie and Perrine for Edmond's departure from his side in front of Perrine. To be fair he doesn't know yet who she is, and when he reveals that he knows it now, he apologizes.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Towards the end, Vulfran starts suspecting Perrine's identity and secretly investigates her background. In the very last chapter, he tells her that he knows she's his granddaughter, asks for forgiveness, and takes her in with open arms.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Perrine's father is French, her mother is Anglo-Indian.
  • Never Learned to Read: Averted, Marie and Edmond taught Perrine the basics of writing/reading as they traveled. Still, Vulfram asks "Aurelie" about her education and then makes sure she'll go to the local school to polish her present knowledge.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Edmond and Marie were rejected by Vulfran when they married, specially because Edmond was supposed to go through an Arranged Marriage to a rich heiress, which he kicked to the curb when he fell for Marie.
  • Plucky Girl: Perrine, oh Perrine. She falters at times but ultimately presses on and gets her desire to be accepted by her grandfather.
  • Secret Identity: To protect herself, Perrine renames self as "Aurelie" and hides her origins when she arrives to Maraucourt.
  • Stubborn Mule: Palikare, Perrine's beloved donkey, at times can be like this. But he's mostly sweet.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Subverted, Rosalie mistakes Perrine/Aurelie as this when she leaves the factory lodge that her family handles, but it turns out Perrine simply wasn't used to sleeping indoors (plus the lodge itself wasn't well-built, though she logically doesn't tell Rosalie about that), so she built her own hut right outside the village. Rosalie even thinks Perrine's bitty hut is cute when she sees it.

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