"A Simple Soul" is the perfect Gustave Flaubert short story: a tale told in spare, straightforward language full of richly observed details. The "soul" is Felicite, the exemplary servant of the austere Madame Aubin. Orphaned and illiterate, Felicite devotes her life to her mistress and Madame's two children. Her kindheartedness extends to her nephew and a local beggar, but it is seldom reciprocated.
Over the years, Felicite suffers many losses but is greatly comforted by the gift of a parrot, Loulou, who becomes her dearest companion. Deeply religious and burdened by the maladies of old age, she eventually confuses the long-dead Loulou with her muddled conception of the Holy Ghost. This finely wrought character study of the life of a selfless innocent is a deserved classic.