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Little Boy Lost [Kindle Edition]

Marghanita Laski
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Book Description

‘When I picked up Little Boy Lost I offered it the tenderly indulgent regard I would any period piece,’ wrote Nicholas Lezard in the Guardian. ‘As it turned out, the book survives perfectly well on its own merits – although it nearly finished me. If you like a novel that expertly puts you through the wringer, this is the one. Hilary Wainwright, poet and intellectual, returns after the war to a blasted and impoverished France in order to trace a child lost five years before. The novel asks: is the child really his? And does he want him? These are questions you can take to be as metaphorical as you wish: the novel works perfectly well as straight narrative. It’s extraordinarily gripping: it has the page-turning compulsion of a thriller while at the same time being written with perfect clarity and precision. Had it not got so nerve-wracking towards the end, I would have read it in one go. But Laski’s understated assurance and grip is almost astonishing. She has got a certain kind of British intellectual down to a tee: part of the book’s nail-biting tension comes from our fear that Hilary won’t do something stupid. The rest of Little Boy Lost’s power comes from the depiction of post-war France herself. This is haunting stuff.’

Product Description


'Had it not got so nerve-wracking towards the end, I would have read it in one go...This is haunting stuff.' -- The Guardian, Nicholas Lezard, October 2001

'Little Boy Lost is a gem.' -- The Jewish Chronicle, Jonathan Self, October 2001

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Facing him was a thin little boy in a black sateen overall. Its sleeves were too short and from them dangled red swollen hands too big for the frail wrists. Hilary looked from these painful hands to the little boy's long thin grubby legs, to the crude coarse socks falling over shabby black boots that were surely several sizes too large. It's a foreign child, he thought numbly, and then let himself look at the small white face turned towards him, a lock of black hair falling from a travesty of a parting over enormous dark eyes that stared imploringly into his.
He knew that he should have moved towards the child, greeted him naturally and with friendliness. But he could only stand and stare with horror and replusion, saying wildly to himself, 'Why does he look at me like that? He doesn't know why I'm here. Why does he look at me like that?'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 986 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Persephone Books Ltd (14 Dec. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006MHSU7U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #74,318 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Orphans of war 20 Sept. 2001
By Lynette Baines VINE VOICE
This wonderful book is the story of a man's search for his son, lost in France during WWII. On a deeper level, it is the story of a man's search for himself, rediscovering his capacity for love after the experiences of war. Hilary Wainwright saw his son John just once, the day after he was born in Paris. Hilary's wife Lisa was working for the Resistance and was captured and killed by the Gestapo when John was a baby, and the child disappeared. After the war, Hilary is contacted by Pierre, a friend of Lisa's, with news of a child who may be John. Hilary sets out to find this child. His search takes him through the devastated French countryside to the small town where the child lives in an orphanage. Hilary's growing relationship with little Jean (the name given to the child) is very moving. Hilary's resistance to love, to being hurt again is vividly portrayed. Jean is a delightful child, a representative of the many thousands of children left orphaned and lost by war. The reader longs for these two lost souls to fall into each other's arms. By the end of the novel, I didn't care whether Jean was Hilary's son or not. The unsentimental yet deeply moving style of the novel is totally engrossing, once started, I could hardly bear put it down.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I could have cried... 2 Mar. 2007
By A. Hope
...and I don't cry over books as a rule. I don't know quite how to describe this lovely book - execept to say it is almost unbearably poignant at times. Originally published in 1949 - it tells the story of Hilary Wainwright and the search for his young son. In 1942 Hilary learns his son - who he believed was being cared for by a woman in occupied France, and who had rescued the child following Hilary's wife's death - is in fact lost, possibly somewhere in France. In 1945 Hilary goes in search of his son, with the help of a french man Pierre. But Hilary is a tortured soul - a poet - he now finds himself resistant to feelings of love since his wifes death, and wonders if he really wants this child at all. I found this such a wonderfuly moving book, and one that at times made me furious too, and I had to put it down and walk away from it at times. It is however hugely memorable, and the sort of book I will read again.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books... ever 2 May 2006
By H. Nash
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I can't begin to praise this book enough. I am a critical reader and I read a lot, and for this to be in my top ten it has to be something special. I keep on recommending it; to be honest, I beg people to read it because it it so good - and it's short, so quick to read! It is beautifully written, restrained and controlled in style, as it deals with a man's search for his missing son. This war-damaged man, bereaved and unable to express love, is as moving a creation as the little boy, Jean, who may be his son. The scenes where they go for walks together, especially when the man gives the boy a gift, are touching and yet never sentimental. The picture of post-war France is also unforgettable. It is impossible to put down and also has one of the most perfect (ie fitting) endings I have ever read (So many books just don't end well...). Once you've read and enjoyed it, try more Persephone books - they are fantastic!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A big decision 7 May 2010
What a fabulous little book, yet again, from Marghanita Laski. I only read The Victorian Chaise-Longue a month or so ago so when I saw this book in a random independent bookshop in Whitby I snatched it off the shelf eagerly.

The book starts at Christmas in England with Hilary Wainwright enjoying a family day at his Mothers house when there is a knock at the door. A weary French man introduces himself as Pierre and tells him that the son Hilary had only seen once the day after he was born (to his French wife, Lisa) is missing and he wants to help find him. Hilary knows that Lisa was killed by the Gestapo but he has never known what happened to his son.

Fast forward two year, after the war (WW2), Hilary sets off for Paris to meet Pierre and hear of his progress in the search for his little boy. The Paris that Hilary once knew is not the Paris that he is now confronted with as he steps off the bus into the rubble. Laski depicts the once vibrant and bustling city that has been reduced to decay brilliantly: she managed to convey the fact that there was an entire loss of culture as well as just buildings and streets. It wasn't the Paris I know and love today and it wasn't the Paris that Hilary had known and loved before the war.

The story then moves to a town further North in France (only named A____) in the book, where Hilary is following up a lead from Pierre that his son had been taken to an orphanage there. Hilary now has to face the fact that not only is his beloved France changed but so, maybe, are his feelings towards the son he had alway longed for. What if he didn't know if the child was his or not? How could he be sure? And did he still want the child?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic That Shouldnt Be Lost 24 Nov. 2009
By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Little Boy Lost is the tale of Hilary Wainwright's search for his son who has been lost in France. How could a child be lost in the wilderness like that, well it is France in the time of the War when the boy goes missing, so actually even easier than you would think and with his mother killed by the Gestapo a young boy might want to be lost or indeed purposefully lost. Hilary has indeed only seen his son once and that was when his baby boy was a day old, since then he has assumed that the boy is being looked after in France until he can go and collect him. On a Christmas night he finds out that this isn't the case and so must, once the war is over, go and find his son where he may be.

This isn't just the tale of a man looking for his lost child though. Through the novel Laski looks at what war can do to families, the politics and extremists behind war and the devastation it leaves behind once the battle is done. Not only in the cities like Paris but also, as the journey takes Hilary, in the countryside and surrounding area's. It is also the tale of a man so used to pain and loss that he is cold to the world and in some ways this tale of a man finding himself and questioning if he can ever love again. It also looks, sometimes in quite a sickening and disturbing way at just what happened to children in the war. A clever and emotionally touching classic that doesnt deserve to be forgotten.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A really good read, I loved it
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
interesting story
Published 1 month ago by j cox
5.0 out of 5 stars A Little Gem of a Book
I love this story, first heard it read on the radio a few decades ago and delighted to have it on Kindle. It's a bit dated here and there but doesn't really matter. Read more
Published 1 month ago by amartell
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I LOVE this book. Read it all the way to the end. Its moving, tender and wonderful!
Published 6 months ago by AnniePannie
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic, unputdownable book
By far the best book I have read this year.

Throughout Little Boy Lost, the reader is forced to internalise the moral dilemmas Hilary (our hero, if you can call him... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Tegen Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching
I think this is a wonderful book. I first read it years ago and was so happy to find it again.
I'm a sucker for happy endings !
Published 6 months ago by Mrs. L. Nash
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Little Boy Lost was a wonderful read & beautifully written
Published 7 months ago by Mrs. Jillian P. Griffiths
5.0 out of 5 stars I thought the story was brilliant, couldn't put it down and the...
I thought the story was brilliant, couldn't put it down and the presentation of the book was just lovely, will be looking out for more Persephone books!
Published 7 months ago by Poli Benstead
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I was persuaded to read this book after reading a review which said that the father's quest to find his boy was thrilling; I didn't find the book was that exciting. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Elrington
3.0 out of 5 stars Little Boy Lost
The writing is of its time and can therefore seem somewhat dated. Hillary, comes from and enjoys a privileged life, as a result it can be difficult to have empathy for the central... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Alastair Lockhart
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