7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A big decision,
This review is from: Little Boy Lost (Persephone Classics) (Paperback)
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? Hilary states a few times that he doesn't want to he hurt again, that he can't experience that loss again, and maybe he should forget about the boy and go back to England.
As his daily visits to the orphanage (orchestrated by the nuns under a cover story), Hilary must decide what he really wants and if the boy does turn out to be his son, does he want his as a part of his life?
Little Boy Lost is a wonderful book: it skips along at a lively pace that keeps your interest entirely but is gentle enough to allow you to ponder the the potential outcomes and appreciate the clarity of the narrative the all the while. And, as with The Victorian Chaise-Longue, the very last sentence packs such a wallop!