Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews March 3, 2024
February 25, 2024
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
Part I opens in the middle of a conversation between Charlie Wales and Alix, a bartender at the Ritz. Charlie asks Alix to pass along his brother-in-law’s address to Duncan Schaeffer. The narrator says that Paris and the Ritz bar feel deserted. Charlie says he has been sober for a year and a half and that he is now a businessman living in Prague. He and Alix gossip about old acquaintances. Charlie says he’s in town to see his daughter.
Charlie gets in a taxi. The Left Bank looks provincial to him, and he wonders whether he’s ruined the city for himself. The narrator tells us that Charlie is a handsome thirty-five-year-old. Charlie goes to his brother-in-law’s house, where his daughter, Honoria, jumps into his arms. Marion Peters, his sister-in-law, greets him without warmth, although his brother-in-law, Lincoln Peters, is friendlier. In a calculated remark, Charlie boasts about how good his finances are these days. Lincoln looks restless, so Charlie changes the subject. Marion says she’s glad there aren’t many Americans left in Paris, and it’s clear that she doesn’t like Charlie.
After eating dinner with the Peters family, Charlie goes to see a famous dancer named Josephine Baker, then to Montmartre, where he passes nightclubs that he recognizes. He sees a few scared tourists go into one club. He thinks about the meaning of dissipation and remembers the vast sums of money he threw away. After ignoring a woman’s advances, he goes home.
Part II begins the following morning. Charlie takes Honoria to lunch. He suggests going to a toy store and then to a vaudeville show. Honoria doesn’t want to go to the toy store because she’s worried they’re no longer rich. Charlie playfully introduces himself to her as if they are strangers. He pretends that her doll is her child, and she goes along with the joke. She says she prefers Lincoln to Marion and asks why she can’t live with Charlie.
Leaving the restaurant, they run into Duncan Schaeffer and Lorraine Quarrles, two of Charlie’s friends from the old days. Lorraine says she and her husband are poor now and that she is alone in Paris. They ask Charlie to join them for dinner, but he brushes them off and refuses to tell them where he’s staying. They see each other again at the vaudeville, and he has a drink with them. In the cab on the way home, Honoria says she wants to live with him, which thrills Charlie. She blows him a kiss when she is safely inside the house.
In Part III, Charlie meets with Marion and Lincoln. He says that he wants Honoria to live with him and that he has changed. He says he drinks one drink per day on purpose so that he doesn’t obsess about it ever again. Marion doesn’t understand this, but Lincoln claims that he understands Charlie. Charlie settles in for a long fight, reminding himself that his objective isn’t to justify his behavior but to win Honoria back. Marion says that Charlie hasn’t existed for her since he locked Helen, her sister and Charlie’s wife, out of their apartment. Charlie says Marion can trust him. As it becomes increasingly clear that Marion simply doesn’t like Charlie, he begins to worry that she will turn Honoria against him. He stresses that he will be able to give Honoria a good life and then realizes that Marion and Lincoln don’t want to hear about how much wealthier he is than they are. He craves a drink.
The narrator says that Marion understands Charlie’s wish to be with his daughter but needs to see him as the villain. She implies that Charlie was responsible for Helen’s death. Lincoln objects. Charlie says that heart trouble killed Helen, and Marion sarcastically agrees with him. Suddenly giving up the fight, she leaves the room. Lincoln tells Charlie that he can take Honoria. Back in his hotel room, Charlie thinks of the way he and Helen destroyed their love for no good reason. He remembers the night they fought and she kissed another man; he got home before her and locked her out. There was a snowstorm later, and Helen wandered around in the cold. The incident marked the “beginning of the end.” Charlie falls asleep and dreams of Helen, who says that she wants him and Honoria to be together.
Part IV begins the next morning. Charlie interviews two potential governesses and then eats lunch with Lincoln. He says Marion resents the fact that Charlie and Helen were spending a fortune while she and Lincoln were just scraping along. In his hotel room, Charlie gets a pneumatique (a letter delivered by pneumatic tube) from Lorraine, who reminisces about their drunken pranks and asks to see him at the Ritz bar. The adventures that Lorraine looks back on with fondness strike Charlie as nightmarish.
Charlie goes to Marion and Lincoln’s house in the afternoon. Honoria has been told of the decision and is delighted. The room feels safe and warm. The doorbell rings—it is Lorraine and Duncan, who are drunk. Slurring their words, they ask Charlie to dinner. He refuses twice and they leave angry. Furious, Marion leaves the room. The children eat dinner, and Lincoln goes to check on Marion. When he comes back, he tells Charlie that the plans have changed.
In Part V, Charlie goes to the Ritz bar. He sees Paul, a bartender he knew in the old days. He thinks of the fights that he and Helen had, the people out of their minds on alcohol and drugs, and the way he locked Helen out in the snow. He calls Lincoln, who says that for six months, they have to drop the question of Honoria living with Charlie. Charlie goes back to the bar. He realizes that the only thing he can do for Honoria is buy her things, which he knows is inadequate. He plans to come back and try again.