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Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski - Review

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

I read this book for my book club, it was chosen by Margaret, who in 2016 chose Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift for us to read, which I also didn't think I'd like and ended up really loving. This is a really odd little book, but I really enjoyed it and also found it unbearably sad. I cried at the end - and I'm not a crier, I never cry at books.

So the plot is: during World War Two, Hilary Wainwright is told that his wife, Lisa, has been killed in Paris by the Gestapo. Furthermore, their son John has been lost too. Hilary tells his mother, with whom he has a strained relationship, that his son is dead.

At the end of the war, Hilary goes to France to see Pierre, who told him the news previously, and who has been doing some research into whether John can be found. He is shocked by how desperate Paris is doing after the war and after the German occupation. Pierre tells him that there is a child in a town fifty miles from Paris that he believes to be Hilary's child.

Hilary travels to the town and finds it dull, provincial, and full of people who may or may not have collaborated with the Germans. He meets with the child and over the course of a few days tries to get to know him. Does he feel the child is his son? Does he want him to be his son? Can he forgive the past and lose his bitterness for long enough to see what is in front of him?

The book was written in 1949 which is way older than most books I read. The end is so nerve-wracking and so sad, and I loved it - I thought it was written so beautifully and I genuinely didn't know which way it was going to end. I really, really recommend this book even and maybe even especially if you don't usually read classics.

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