Van has finished reading…A Little In Love by Susan Fletcher

5 Jan

I’ve not read Les Miserables. I’ve not been tempted by Mr Mackintosh’s spectacular stage presentation. I’ve not even seen any of the films. It’s a thing I’m merely aware of in a general sense. (Courtesy of the Curtis Brown Book Group and the lovely limited edition copy they sent me) I come to Susan Fletcher’s A Little In Love cold, as it were. I have no preconceptions about the characters I’m going to meet, other than that they’re French and likely to suffer. I’m under no illusion that this means there’s a whole layer of relevance that passes me by, both technically and emotionally. Of course this could be drawback or advantage: I don’t know these characters; on the other hand, I don’t know them! What if I’d read it and loved it and formed such a sure vision of these characters only to discover Susan’s presentation of them jarred? It’s a brave move, in my view, to take on a story like this.
On the face on things Eponine shouldn’t be a likeable character. Born of truly horrid parents she is raised in deceit and treachery. At such a young age she is adept in various forms of plunder. She’s the kind of child you warn your own young ones to steer clear of. Yet from this rough clay Susan Fletcher shows us the essence of her life, shows us the little girl beneath the veneer, her yearning for love and how it battles with her longing to be good. You find yourself rooting for little ‘Ponine, feeling the Great Injustices of the World that are hidden in each tender slight she suffers, or indeed inflicts. It’s a tragic story indeed and builds to a climax it’s hard not to feel.
It seemed tailor-made, too, for this time of year – the silver embossing and the shiny red cover glinting in the fire-light at Christmas-time. Perfect Festive holiday reading. Put it on your present list. Give it to your teens. But don’t forget to read it yourself too!


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