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Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski (final thoughts)

July 28, 2011

From the publisher’s website:
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

I first heard of Marghanita Laski just recently when I read Coffee and a Book Chick‘s review of The Victorian Chaise Lounge. It sounded fantastic so I immediately jumped over to my library’s website to request it only to find that they didn’t have it. They did, however, have another book by her called Little Boy Lost, which I thought might be a good substitute.

While Little Boy Lost wasn’t the mind twist that The Victorian Chaise Lounge seems to be, it was a wonderful book. It started out slowly as I cautiously made my way through the opening pages, as you do when beginning a book by a new-to-you author. A little bit hesitant, unsure of whether or not this will be a good fit. But before I knew it, I couldn’t put the book down. And when I did, I couldn’t stop talking about it (just ask the husband).

One of the reasons that I wasn’t sure I would like the book was because Hilary wasn’t all that likable. He was one of those pretentious, self-righteous intellectuals who are quite aware of their pretentiousness and self-righteousness. He had moments of sincere tenderness towards the boy, but then would turn around and do something completely and utterly selfish. In short, he was a flawed character which made for some great reflection on his part. The purpose of his journey was originally to find his son, but also became one in which he had to come to grips with the new, post-war France, at once both familiar and completely different than the one he had loved prior to the war. He was disgusted by the corruption while at the same time making excuses for the black market steak he was enjoying.

Little Jean, on the other hand, I fell for immediately. Sometimes you come across a character with the saddest, most sincere lines that just grab hold of your heartstrings and won’t let go. It’s not that they want anyone to feel sorry for them, they’re just honestly sharing aspects of their life. Jean was such a character. There were a couple times where I had to stop and go ‘Oh!” sadly, re-read that section, move on, and then come back to it a little while later. I was going to share one of the passages with you, but I think I’ll leave them for you to discover.

If you haven’t read anything by Laski, I highly recommend checking this one out. As for me, I’ll be scouring bookstores for her works, so that I can add this and The Victorian Chaise Lounge to my personal library.

My rating: 8.5/10
Soundtrack Saturday 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 28, 2011 6:15 pm

    I thought Jean was a wonderful character too. I expected him to be a sort of Little Lord Fauntleroy type character, where everyone who meets him loves him because of his radiant goodness. But in fact he was a viable little boy, I thought!

  2. July 29, 2011 2:37 am

    I loved The Victorian Chaise Lounge and have been meaning to read more Laski ever since. I think this will be my next.


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