One From the Archive: ‘Little Boy Lost’ by Marghanita Laski *****

With the exception of one book on the Persephone list (Heat Lightning by Helen Hull), I have very much enjoyed those which I have read so far.  I purchased Little Boy Lost just a week or two before I started reading it, and began it whilst on a trip to London.  I was so engrossed that I probably would have missed my stop, had King’s Cross not been the end of the line.

I cannot do the fabulous blurb of this book justice, so I have copied it below:

Hilary Wainwright, an English soldier, returns to a blasted and impoverished France during World War Two in order to trace a child lost five years before. But is this small, quiet boy in a grim orphanage really his son? And what if he is not? In this exquisitely crafted novel, we follow Hilary’s struggle to love in the midst of a devastating war.

“Facing him was a thin little boy in a black sateen overall. Its sleeves were too short and from them dangled red swollen hands too big for the frail wrists. Hilary looked from these painful hands to the little boy’s long thin grubby legs, to the crude coarse socks falling over shabby black boots that were surely several sizes too large. It’s a foreign child, he thought numbly . . .”

Little Boy Lost has many layers within it – grief, love, loss, the French Resistance movements, friendships, displacement – and everything has been so well balanced.  I do not wish to give too much away in my review, but the arc of the story is perfect, the characters – particularly the children – marvellously drawn, and the psychology believable.  It has been beautifully written, and Laski’s is a style which is incredibly easy to immerse oneself into.  I was on tenterhooks throughout, and this much adored novel ranks among my favourite Persephones so far.

Hilary Wainwright, an English soldier, returns to a blasted and impoverished France during World War Two in order to trace a child lost five years before. But is this small, quiet boy in a grim orphanage really his son? And what if he is not? In this exquisitely crafted novel, we follow Hilary’s struggle to love in the midst of a devastating war.

“Facing him was a thin little boy in a black sateen overall. Its sleeves were too short and from them dangled red swollen hands too big for the frail wrists. Hilary looked from these painful hands to the little boy’s long thin grubby legs, to the crude coarse socks falling over shabby black boots that were surely several sizes too large. It’s a foreign child, he thought numbly . . .”

Purchase from The Book Depository

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6 thoughts on “One From the Archive: ‘Little Boy Lost’ by Marghanita Laski *****

  1. Pingback: Rearview Mirror: August 2015 | The Aroma of Books

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