This is one of those books that will take a while to sink in and the chances are my opinion is going to shift back and forth. Which is why it’s going to be such a good book to discuss at the French Readers Gathering in May.
There’s a distinct shift when the little French orphan, Jean, enters the story half way through. Until then the putative father, Hilary Wainwright, has exuded a cold, unfeeling presence. OK, the death of his wife who he had to leave in wartime France only days after the birth of their son has clouded his horizons. And yes, he’s wary of opening himself up to feeling once again. Plus there’s his even colder, unemotional mother who we don’t even get to know but who sends an icy blast through the pages.
There’s more to this book than I want to commit to at the moment, other than to say the cover painting – Youth Wearing a Brown Waistcoat – by Rhoda Glass perfectly encapsulates the personality of Hilary who is in fact the Little Boy Lost. (Having said that, I can’t help adding there’s an uncanny resemblance to the young Prince Charles!)
Now it’s time to start drumming up interest for the September Gathering for which we already have two committed souls. More to follow soon, I hope.