A Little In Love by Susan Fletcher
|A Little In Love by Susan Fletcher|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Tanja Jennings|
|Summary: An impressive debut for teens which encapsulates the tragic heart of Hugo's magnum opus through Eponine's eyes. A book written in short, accessible chapters that stirs the emotions by unleashing a whirlwind of evocative imagery.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 268||Date: October 2014|
|Publisher: Chicken House|
|External links: Author's website|
Victor Hugo’s epic historic masterpiece Les Miserables, a portrait of social injustice, sacrifice, revolutionary passion and pain, has gained renown as a stage musical and movie. To attempt to adapt a novel so rich in historical detail and grandiose verbosity for a modern audience is a herculean task yet Fletcher has managed to capture the heart of the novel in simple prose. The strong willed, courageous and flawed Eponine replaces Jean Valjean as the main protagonist journeying through crime, punishment and rehabilitation towards redemption. While Hugo’s reader only catches glimpses of her life seen through other eyes, Fletcher’s reader experiences a tapestry of misery, poverty, duplicity, passion, pain, self-sacrifice, suffering and sorrow from Eponine’s perspective as she battles with the good and evil in her soul. Her character comes alive when she was merely a poignant sketch before.
Fletcher paints Eponine’s social background in desperate detail putting flesh on the bones of her story describing her formative years, her temptations, her beliefs and her romantic dreams, painting the portrait of a courageous and vulnerable woman trapped in a man’s world as her desire to be virtuous conflicts with the way she was reared.
From the den of iniquity run by Eponine’s larcenous parents in rural Mont Fermeil where she lives with her sister Azelma and where a desperate Fantine entrusts her precious daughter Cosette to the treacherous Thenardiers’ care to sudden flight to the snare of the evil machinations of the Patron Minette in Paris, Fletcher faithfully observes and crystallises the relationships and key scenes pertaining to the poverty stricken and reprehensible Thenardiers in Hugo’s novel. The reader learns the genesis of the cheeky street imp Gavroche, the significance of Cosette, Eponine and Marius’s relationship (made more real by the re-imagining and inclusion of the letter which opens A Little in Love ) and experiences Eponine’s mother as a more rounded character. The plaintive ‘Et puis, tenez, Monsieur Marius, je crois que j’etais un peu amoureuse de vous’ forms the lynchpin of Eponine’s resolve as she struggles to break free from the grip of her villainous father who forces her to do his bidding.
Fletcher’s novel is an evocative and contrasting feast of sights, sounds and smells from an impoverished tenement to a rose filled garden, from a lively café to blood soaked barricades, from the sunlight on the River Seine to a makeshift child’s swing, from the sweet scent of hot chestnuts to the acrid stench of smoking gunpowder, from the stink of sewers, damp and drains to earthy pine cones, from the ting ting of a blacksmith’s hammer to the revolutionary cries of passionate students, from flashbacks of a baby sucking milk from tender fingers, a porcelain doll, a splintered wooden clog and a tree hung with sweet, juicy peaches to a starry sky, she brings new life to Hugo’s vision. I challenge you not to shed a tear.
If you want another taste of trouble-torn Paris why not try Sally Gardner's atmospheric and compelling The Red Necklace and The Silver Blade or The Pale Assassin and The Traitor's Smile both by Patricia Elliott. For a departure from fiction and a contemporary flavour of revolutionary France why not finish your journey by reading the riveting biography Dancing to the Precipice : Lucie De La Tour Du Pin and the French Revolution by Caroline Moorehead.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Little In Love by Susan Fletcher at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy A Little In Love by Susan Fletcher at Amazon.com.
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